SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A former Arizona State University football player who worked as a bouncer at Martini Ranch in Scottsdale died Saturday morning, nearly a week after he was stabbed outside the bar.
Scottsdale police detectives said there was an altercation inside Martini Ranch near Scottsdale and Camelback roads at about 1 a.m. on Jan. 27 and a group of male and female patrons were escorted out of the club by security staff.
Ian MacDonald, 26, of Tempe, was among the group. Outside the bar, he became involved in a fight with security employees and Tyrice Thompson, 27, of Laveen, was stabbed five times in the back, hip and arm, according to police.
MacDonald denied knowledge of how the bouncer was stabbed and no one else admitted to seeing or being involved with the stabbing.
Police said none of the security workers or other bar employees could identify who stabbed Thompson. No knife was found and everyone was released from the scene.
Thompson was not able to speak to officers or help identify who stabbed him.
Detectives conducted follow-up interviews with the involved parties and reviewed security footage of the incident. They developed probable cause to believe MacDonald was the suspect and arrested him Tuesday at his place of employment.
Police said MacDonald admitted to fighting with the bouncers but denied stabbing Thompson. He was released pending further investigation.
"We are processing the lab work," said Sgt. Mark Clark of the Scottsdale Police Department. "Then, we're going to work with the county attorney's office to get charges filed."
Thompson played wide receiver, tight end and defensive end for ASU from 2004 to 2007 and is a graduate of South Mountain High School in Phoenix.
Thompson had only been on the job for a month, but had made a big impact on his co-workers, according to Martini Ranch General Manager Mike Stravers.
Friends said Thompson, who leaves behind a son nearly 2 years old, will be remembered for his talent, his optimism and his smile.
"He applied himself every time he stepped on that football field and he applied himself every time he walked in that classroom and he applied himself every time he held his child," said friend and former teammate Deon Graham.
"You never saw him in a bad mood," Graham continued. "He was always positive, very inspiring, always encouraging, always laughing."
Recently, Thompson had been working on his music career with the local label The Illustrious Few.
"A lot of people loved him," DJ John Blaze said. "People want answers, most importantly the family wants answers. I mean he's 27 year old. He's a father. He doesn't deserve to die that young."
Sun Devil Athletics released the following statement:
"The Thompson family is in the thoughts of everyone in the Sun Devil Athletics family. The words of his teammates, our fans and media who came in contact with him are true measures of how much his smile was appreciated."
Martini Ranch issued the following statement:
"It was with heavy hearts that we learned the news of Tyrice Thompson's passing this morning. We are shocked and saddened by this tragedy and our deepest condolences go out to Tyrice's family and friends. It is hard to find words to describe the sense of iniquity one feels when something like this happens to someone so young and undeserving.
"In the short time that we shared with Tyrice, he had truly become a member of our family. Tyrice had a remarkable ability to connect with people and will always be remembered for his warm smile, sense of humor and positive attitude. It is not often in life that you meet a person who can make such an immediate and positive impact on those around him, but in Tyrice's case, it seemed to come naturally.
"We pray that the person responsible will be brought to justice so that Tyrice's family can begin the healing process. We ask that anyone who may have witnessed the incident or who may have any information please contact Scottsdale Police Department. We will be spearheading fundraising efforts for Tyrice's family; those who wish to offer assistance may visit our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RememberTyrice) for more information."