ATLANTA — Former boxing champion Vernon Forrest exchanged gunfire with robbery suspects before being shot to death, Atlanta police said Monday.
The 38-year-old former two-division champion, who gained notoriety when he became the first boxer to defeat Shane Mosley, was killed Saturday night. Investigators believe between 20 and 24 shots were fired from two guns, said Lt. Keith Meadows. Police recovered Forrest’s gun and one shell casing belonging to that gun, he said.
Forrest was putting air in his car tires at a gas station when a man asked for money, his manager Charles Watson said. When he pulled his wallet out, the man snatched it and started running, and Forrest took off after him, Watson said.
Meadows would not confirm those details and said investigators have no new leads on suspects. Fulton County medical examiner Michele Stauffenberg had confirmed the case was a homicide and that the autopsy showed Forrest died from “multiple gunshot wounds involving the torso and thigh.”
Mosley praised Forrest for his boxing and his positive effect within the community.
“I viewed Vernon as a great competitor in the ring and an even greater man outside of the ring,” he said in an e-mail. “His philanthropic efforts in his community and his drive to help others were deeply admired,” Mosley added. “My thoughts and prayers go out to his family during this very difficult time.”
Those who knew Forrest praised his role in launching the Destiny’s Child group homes in Atlanta, which work to provide homes for the mentally disabled. Longtime publicist Kelly Swanson called Forrest “a caring humanitarian who always stood up for what he believed to be the fairness of life.”
She said working with children was “truly his calling.”
“When he wasn’t boxing, this was his full-time job. ... When they would see him, they would just light up, and some of them couldn’t even talk. Vernon was very much involved. He’d have some of the kids over to his house on Sundays. They were part of his family.”
Funeral arrangements were still being made for Forrest, who was not married and had one son.