Mississippi sprinter Lockhart, 20, found shot to death

Updated: September 29, 2007, 10:02 PM ET
Associated Press

OXFORD, Miss. -- Mississippi sprinter Rodney Lydale Lockhart was found shot to death Saturday at his apartment near the Ole Miss campus.

Lockhart, a junior psychology major from Vaiden, was a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. 1,600-meter relay team in the 2006 World Junior Championships in Beijing.

Oxford police were called to Lockhart's apartment about 10 a.m. Saturday after a 911 call from a man who said he found the runner lying on the floor. The 20-year-old Lockhart was pronounced dead at the scene by Lafayette County Coroner Lonnie Weaver, according to a news release by Oxford Police Chief Mike Martin.

"This is an unbelievable thing, and I'm having difficulty processing it," said Mississippi track coach Joe Walker.

Lockhart's death is being investigated as a homicide by the Oxford Police Department and the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations, Martin said.

At the 2006 SEC Outdoor Championships, Lockhart finished ninth in the 400 meters and was a member of the 1,600-meter relay team that finished eighth. At the 2006 SEC Indoor Championships, he finished eighth in the 400 meters and was part of a 1,600-meter relay team that finished fifth.

Dean of Students Thomas J. "Sparky" Reardon and University Counseling Center Director Mark Showalter met with the team Saturday evening.

"We are deeply saddened by Rodney's death," Walker said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Rodney's family and friends."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press