Ex-CMU RB Tipton accidentally shoots himself, dies

Holly Fournier, and Candice Williams

Roseville — Former Central Michigan University and Indianapolis Colts running back Zurlon Tipton Jr. died Tuesday after he accidentally shot himself in the stomach at a car dealership while reaching into a bag that held two firearms, officials said.

Tipton’s death was confirmed Tuesday afternoon by the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

“The department has been notified by staff at St John (Hospital on Moross) that the individual that suffered the gunshot wound has passed away due to his injuries,” Roseville Police Deputy Chief Donald Glandon wrote in a statement Tuesday. “Condolences to the family.”

The shooting occurred as the 26-year-old Detroit native placed personal belongings into a bag containing the firearms, police said. It remained unclear Tuesday who owned the weapons or why Tipton was carrying them.

“A gentleman ... brought a vehicle into our service department between 9 and 9:30 this morning,” said Mark DeMara, general manager of Mike Riehl’s Roseville Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram Dealership on Gratiot between 10 and 11 Mile. “He had a transmission leak in his vehicle. At some point, he reached into a duffel bag that was on the passenger seat of his vehicle and the pistol that was in there deployed and shot the gentleman in the abdomen.”

Tipton was originally alert and talking while being transported to the hospital, police said. There were no other injuries or damage associated with the incident.

The incident is being treated as an “accidental discharge.”

Response inside the dealership was quick, said DeMara, who arrived on the scene within a minute of the shooting.

“It was pretty well-controlled,” he said. “We have a salesperson here who was a former fire department chief, so he was actually the first responder.”

Tipton, a running back, attended Parkway Christian in Sterling Heights before playing football from 2010-13 for CMU. Tipton had a 1,500-yard rushing season, helping the Chippewas to a winning record and Little Caesars Bowl victory in his junior season.

Tipton played two seasons for the Indianapolis Colts in 2014 and 2015 after being picked up as an undrafted free agent in May 2014, playing a total of 16 games. He was waived in December.

Early Christmas morning Tipton was arrested for firing a gun outside his girlfriend’s home in the Indianapolis area, according to police. The Indianapolis Star reported Tipton was charged with criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon. According to media reports, the prosecutor’s office declined to pursue charges against him.

Tipton told Greenwood police he went to the home after he received threatening texts from his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend stating the woman was going to be harmed. Believing the ex-boyfriend was inside the home, Tipton fired one round from an AR-15 assault weapon, police said.

As word of Tipton’s death spread Tuesday afternoon there was an outpouring of comments on social media.

“Parkway Christian school is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Zurlon Tipton,” the school wrote on its Facebook page. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. We pray for peace and comfort at this time of tragic loss. He will be remembered for many years to come.”

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Donte Moncrief reflected on Tipton on his Instagram account Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s crazy I just got that phone call bro cause I just talk to you and we talked about the future and teams giving you your second chance,” Moncrief wrote. “No matter where I’m at or what team I’m on ill have that 37 on my wrist or glove.”