College basketball player found shot dead in Mercedes at nature preserve in New Jersey

Homicide detectives are investigating the death of a Connecticut college basketball player who was found fatally shot this weekend at a nature preserve in central New Jersey, authorities said.

The athlete, identified as 20-year-old Phillip Urban of the nearby township Manapalan, was found “slumped over” in the driver’s seat of a white Mercedes discovered on a trail at around 7 p.m. local time Saturday, the Mercer County prosecutor confirmed in a news release. Police say they found Urban while responding to a call that led officers to a section of the Hopewell Valley Nature Preserve, which is a wooded area located about 15 miles from Trenton.

The exact nature of that initial police call is not clear. After officers found Urban inside the Mercedes,  he was transported to Capital Health Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead from a gunshot wound, according to the county prosecutor’s office.

A preliminary investigation suggests that Urban had intended to meet an acquaintance at the nature preserve on Saturday night and was shot “at some point during the encounter,” the prosecutor’s office said.

Authorities have not yet arrested anyone in connection with the crime. They are asking anyone with potential information about the shooting to report what they know to either the Mercer County Homicide Task Force or Hopewell Township Police Department.

A high school graduate of the Pennington School in central New Jersey, Urban began his college basketball career this fall as a freshman at Post University in Waterbury, Connecticut. In a tweet welcoming Urban to the team when he committed last spring, the university described Urban as a “skilled wing” who stood at 6 feet 6 inches tall who could play multiple positions on the court.

John Hopkins, the chief executive officer and president of Post University, responded to the reports of Urban’s death in a statement to the news station NJ 101.5 on Sunday.

“The Post University community is heartbroken to learn of the death of freshman student, Philip Urban last night,” Hopkins said, according to the outlet. “As a member of the Men’s basketball team and a Business Administration major, Philip modeled the attributes of leadership, commitment and hard work on the court and in the classroom. “

The university did not immediately reply to a CBS News request for comment.

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