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Sarasota football star Brian Battie injured, brother killed in shooting

The brothers were shot at Tallywood Centre Plaza in the early hours of May 18. Their connections to the Sarasota community run deep.

Former Sarasota High running back Brian Battie played for Auburn University in 2023.
Former Sarasota High running back Brian Battie played for Auburn University in 2023.
Courtesy image
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In 2017, Tommie Battie IV and Brian Battie were starters on the Sarasota High football team. 

The team went 5-5 that season, but the brothers were bright spots. Tommie Battie, a senior, played defensive back and took occasional snaps at quarterback. When he did, Brian Battie would be next to him. A sophomore at the time, Brian Battie would soon turn into the best running back in the Sarasota area. His ascent began that season. 

The 2017 season was the only one the brothers played together, but they both played the game with enthusiasm, which earned them the respect of their teammates. In a 34-14 win over Booker High that year, the brothers combined for 285 yards

The happy memories only make what happened May 18 more of a tragedy. 

Brian Battie and Tommie Battie IV played football together for Sarasota High in 2017. The brothers were shot in Sarasota on May 18. Tommie Battie IV was pronounced dead at the scene, while Brian Battie was taken to a local hospital in critical condition.
File photo

The Battie brothers were among a group of people shot around 3:30 a.m. May 18 at Tallywood Centre Plaza, in the 3400 block of 17th Street in Sarasota, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office. Tommie Battie IV, 24, was pronounced dead at the scene. Brian Battie, 22, was taken to a local hospital in critical condition. Four other victims were taken to local hospitals. 

As of May 19, the SCSO had not released the name of the shooter nor a motive, but said it appeared to be an isolated incident. The investigation is ongoing, and anyone with information related to this shooting is encouraged to contact the SCSO Criminal Investigations Section at 861-4900 or Sarasota Crimestoppers at 366-8477. 

While Tommie Battie IV did not continue his football career past his senior season in 2017, Brian Battie did. 

An electric running back and kick/punt returner, Brian Battie was a threat to score every time he touched the ball. He had options of where he could play at the NCAA Division I level. He elected to join the University of South Florida, where he spent three seasons and accumulated 1,842 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, plus 1,427 kick return yards and three touchdowns. He was named an NCAA Consensus All-American for his 2021 performance on special teams. Battie transferred to Auburn University prior to the 2023 season and had 227 rushing yards and a touchdown, plus 645 kick return yards, with the Tigers. 

During Brian Battie's senior season at Sarasota High, Brody Wiseman was the offensive coordinator. It was Wiseman's first year with the program. The Sailors had faced down 13-straight seasons without a winning record, but that year, the team finished 6-4, breaking the streak and setting offensive records in the process. Wiseman, who would become the team's head coach the next season, said it was all a credit to Battie. 

"I don't think any of the opportunities that I got in coaching (after that), I would have received without Brian playing for me," Wiseman, now the offensive coordinator at Riverview High, said. "He was that impactful to our program and to the kids that were around it." 

At the time, his talent was evident, but his off-the-field impact was just as important. Battie was a humble player at Sarasota, Wiseman said, and one who treated everybody on the team the same regardless of seniority or skill level. He was also tougher than a brick wall. During his senior season — and throughout much of his college career — Battie played with a toe injury that doctors had a hard time solving, Wiseman said. He was often limited in practice. But during games, no one could tell. 

Battie didn't have to do that, Wiseman said. He was already committed to USF, his future secured. No one would have blamed him for missing a few games. Instead, Battie played better than ever. In his final high school game, against rival Riverview, he ran for 148 yards and a touchdown as the Sailors were fighting for a playoff spot. The Sailors lost the game, but Wiseman has never forgotten the effort. 

Former Sarasota High running back Brian Battie transferred from South Florida to Auburn prior to the 2023 season.
Courtesy image

Since graduating, Battie has come back to the area frequently. Wiseman said Battie would often show up at Sailors' practices to help mentor the team's running backs. Wiseman said he still plays video games with Battie, things like "Call of Duty" or "Fight Night," a boxing game. It all paints a picture of someone who wanted to stay connected to the places, people and organizations that helped him reach his dreams. 

"He is an older brother figure to a lot of people here," Wiseman said. "A lot of kids are hurting about this." 

Wiseman made sure to use the present tense when talking about Battie. He's still fighting, Wiseman said. 

Coaches, fans and friends of Battie are also sharing memories and words of support on social media via the #BattieStrong hashtag. Daniel Da Prato, now the associate head coach at Texas State University, coached special teams at South Florida while Battie was there. In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Da Prato called Battie "my guy" and posted a photo of the two of them together, with a broken heart emoji in the message. 

On May 13, Battie and his father, Tommie Battie III, shared a post in Instagram. It was a video of Battie working out. Battie III, a local trainer, had been helping his son get ready for the 2024 season. 

"Finally healthy and on the grind, manifesting my own destiny," the video caption said. 

Here's praying he gets the chance, and that the entire Battie family can find peace after this tragedy. 

A GoFundMe page has been started to help the Battie family with medical bills and funeral costs.



Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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