San Marcos homicide victim was recent graduate of Manor ISD, district confirms

SAN MARCOS, Texas — Manor ISD has confirmed that the person killed in a Sunday afternoon homicide in San Marcos was a recent graduate of the district. The City of San Marcos said 19-year-old Lavonte Craig Benford died in the shooting.

Benford’s former football coach, James Keller, said the teen they affectionately called “Red” because of his hair, was an amazing athlete and even better person.

“He ran track,” said Keller. “He did powerlifting. He was an all-district football player, sophomore junior, senior year, just a great kid.”

Benford graduated from Manor Senior High in 2021. Head Football Coach Keller said Red played football as a Mustang for four years, with three on varsity.

“He brightened up the room every time you saw him – something about his smile, he always had a big ole smile on his face,” said Keller.

To Keller, Red was more than a student-athlete. They met while Benford played little league. He said they were glued at the hip ever since.


“He is almost like a second, third son to me, man,” said Keller. “I need someone to watch my house when we go out of town and Red watched my house for me. Great character, very trustworthy. I loved him to death.”

Keller said Benford went on vacations with him and his family and spent a lot of time at their home. Keller said his 9-year-old son looked up to Benford. 

“Red was his favorite,” said Keller. “He had this big ole smile and wore a grill all the time. My son is 9 years old and he said, ‘I want a grill like Red, Dad.’ My wife got him a fake gill and made a collage of them with their grills and we sent it to Red.”

Keller tearfully said Benford wanted to be a welder but worked at Amazon while staying with his brother near Texas State University. 

“We love you, man,” said Keller tearfully. “Sorry I wasn’t there for you when it happened.”

On Monday morning, MISD released the following statement:

“Lavonte Benford, affectionately called ‘Red’ by family and friends, was a former scholar of Manor ISD. He graduated from Manor Senior High School in spring 2021. Red was a student-athlete and well known for his skill and abilities in football and track. We wish our deepest condolences to his parents, siblings, family and all who loved him. Manor ISD is working closely with Travis County and the City of Manor to provide support to our community during this time of grieving and healing. A crisis team is available this week at Manor High School and Manor Senior High. We will forever cherish Red’s memory at Manor ISD and will never forget his picture perfect smile.”

The City of San Marcos confirmed Monday morning that the San Marcos Police Department was investigating a homicide that occurred Sunday around 2:20 p.m. at The Cottages apartment complex, located at 1415 Craddock Ave., just a mile from Texas State University.


Benford was pronounced dead at the scene. He was not a student at Texas State, the City said.

The City said police were speaking with witnesses and working to identify the suspect. The shooting was an isolated incident and there is no ongoing threat to the public.

This is the fourth homicide this year in San Marcos.

Written by KVUE Staff

Categories: Crime

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