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Family copes with Brown’s death

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, Sep. 23, 2012, at 11:44 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, Sep. 23, 2012, at 11:47 p.m.

Brandon Brown didn’t want to leave California. Specifically, he didn’t want to leave his two young children.

“That was his only apprehension about coming to Kansas, that he’d be so far away from his children,” said Brown’s aunt, Gretchen Garner-Easter. “We talked him into coming, to get a good education and then come back and take care of them even better.

“We convinced him it was no problem to stay in contact. You can talk every day, you can Skype ... but it would be better for (the children) and Brandon in the long run to get his degree.”

Brown died Saturday night at 10:16 p.m. at Via Christi on St. Francis, where he’d been on life support since Sept. 16 after he was found beaten, unconscious and unresponsive in McPherson after police responded to a call of a noise complaint and a disturbance. Brown, 26, leaves behind a 3-year-old son and a 7-month-old daughter.

Sunday, Brown’s family — including his mother, father and stepfather — were in Hillsboro, where they took a tour of Tabor and tried to deal with the emotions surrounding Brown’s death.

Brown, a 6-foot-3, 280-pound defensive lineman, transferred to Tabor from Santa Ana (Calif.) College, a two-year school.

The family planned to take Brown’s body back to Sacramento, his hometown, for a church service, then south to Monrovia, Calif., where he will be buried next to his grandmother. No definite memorial service or funeral arrangements had been set as of Sunday.

“We’re just trying to work through this,” Garner-Easter said. “We’re trying to bring a little closure to this thing before we head home.

“When we lost him … we were just devastated. It was just unreal. Even though we were sitting there with him all week and knew how terrible his injuries were, we still held out hope. He fought a good fight but his injuries were just so serious.”

The family, in town since early last week, was able to speak with some of Brown’s professors at Tabor, where they were told that just recently he’d decided on a major.

“(Brown) had decided to be a communications major, mainly because he loved sports so much,” Garner-Easter said. “He just wanted to be around sports in any way he could.”

A McPherson College student from Texas was arrested on Saturday for aggravated battery, but the McPherson police put out a release saying that additional charges were expected. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation is working with the McPherson police in what they’ve classified as an “ongoing investigation.”

Alton Franklin, 19, is being held at McPherson County jail on a $100,000 bond.

McPherson College said in a release on Sunday that Franklin had been suspended after a review by the school’s Campus Conduct Committee.

Garner-Easter said there was a possibility the family would come back to Kansas if there was a trial.

“I think it’s important to have parents at a trial, for any courtroom proceedings,” Garner-Easter said. “But at the same time, Brandon’s parents dropped everything to come out here and there’s a lot involved in coming back from California.”

Reach Tony Adame at tadame@wichitaeagle.com or 316-268-6284.

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