LOWER MORELAND — A suspect has been arrested in the Feb. 20 shooting on the University of Arizona campus that resulted in the death of Forrest Keys, a 2019 Lower Moreland graduate, the Tucson Police Department announced Friday.
A 17-year-old boy was arrested and booked on Thursday under suspicion of first-degree murder and drive-by shooting per a department statement. According to police reports, Keys, a 20-year-old sophomore majoring in communications, was walking with friends in a parking garage when a verbal altercation with a red Cadillac car escalated into violence.
Keys was an accomplished athlete at Lower Moreland, where he was a pivotal player on the boys’ basketball team’s state playoff runs in 2016 and 2019 and an all-league wide receiver with the Lions football program. News of Keys’ passing hit the Lower Moreland community hard, with coaches and teammates remembering him as a fierce competitor and loyal teammate.
The 2018-19 basketball team featured 12 seniors including Keys. Shane Cohen, one of those seniors and the team’s point guard, recalled how his close friend always had his teammates’ backs no matter the situation.
“I remember, it was sixth or seventh grade, a kid pushed me down and Forrest was the first person by my side,” Cohen said earlier this week. “He wasn’t even near the play but he got right over there and protected me like I was his little brother. That was something I knew I would always have with him.”
Teammates shared several clips of Keys this week that showed the much-respected team player making a key pass, dribbling out the clock or giving his all to make a defensive play, not star moments but winning ones.
A Huntingdon Valley resident, Keys came on to football late but was a highly-productive receiver and defensive back who played nearly every snap for a Lions team that didn’t have a large roster. Keys was a favorite target of Coleman Peppelman, who broke the program’s passing records as a senior when he and Keys shared team MVP honors.
As a senior, Keys was selected to the Montgomery/Bucks All-Star football game. Lower Moreland football coach Justin Beck, who took over the program prior to Keys’ junior year, wrote a heartfelt Facebook message that thanked Keys not only for his on-field contributions but his leadership, humble attitude and willingness to give anything for a teammate in need.
Basketball teammate Bryce Horn, who was part of a tight-knit group of friends with Keys that lived in the same housing development, remembered that Keys was all-business as an athlete but had a way of getting the right message across when it was needed.
Cohen and fellow 2019 grad Andrew Finnegan shared stories of Keys as the Lions’ emotional spark and he had a knack for clutch performances. Keys scored 22 points in the 2019 PIAA Class 4A second round to help the Lions beat heavily-favored Bethlehem Catholic in a run that culminated in the program’s first state semifinal appearance.
Danny Duffey, a 2016 LM graduate and senior point guard of that year’s state quarterfinal squad, pointed to a BAL tournament game where Keys, then a freshman, scored 11 points to beat rival Holy Ghost Prep.
Standing around six feet tall, Keys was Lower Moreland’s tallest player and routinely matched up with players several inches taller and much bigger, but never backed down.
“He wasn’t an attention guy, he didn’t care much about how good he was, the only thing he wanted was to contribute,” Horn said this week.
University of Arizona Police responded to a report of shots fired around 11 p.m. Feb. 20. Despite efforts to render aid, Keys was pronounced dead on the scene.
Surveillance cameras helped identify the red Cadillac, which has yet to be located. Investigators didn’t want to release additional information as they continue efforts to find the vehicle as well as individuals who could be additional suspects and witnesses, a Tucson Police Department spokesman said.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report