Greek authorities said a group of about 10 men killed an American tourist during a bar fight early Friday morning on a Greek island, state news agency ANA-MPA reported.
Bakari Henderson, a 22-year-old recent graduate of the University of Arizona, was in a bar with friends in Laganas, a tourist village on the island of Zakynthos, when another customer approached him. The confrontation quickly escalated to a fistfight, and the bar’s security guard asked the two to leave, according to the state news agency.
The fight continued outside, where more people, including two bar employees, began punching Henderson.
Surveillance videos from nearby shops showed the suspects beating Henderson even after he was unconscious, ANA-MPA reported. Henderson died at a hospital.
— KXAN News (@KXAN_News) July 8, 2017
Eight people have been arrested and will be charged in connection with Henderson’s death, the news agency reported.
A 32-year-old from Serbia and a 34-year-old from Greece were arrested shortly after the fight. Six others, all from Serbia, were arrested later after police raided the hotel where they were staying. The news agency reported that the six were recognized from surveillance videos.
It remains unclear what prompted the brawl.
A State Department official said in a statement that Greek police have notified the U.S. Embassy of Henderson’s death.
“We are in communication with authorities and providing consular assistance to the deceased citizen’s family,” the official said. “We offer our sincerest condolences to family and friends, and out of respect for the family during this difficult time, we have no further comment.”
Henderson, who is from Austin, was in Greece for a photo shoot to launch his new clothing line, his family told NBC affiliate KVOA in a statement. He attended the University of Arizona on a full academic scholarship and graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in business finance and entrepreneurship, along with a certificate in sports management. He also had internships with the Texas legislature, including the House speaker’s office, his family said.
“As you can imagine, our family is devastated by the recent loss of our beloved son Bakari Jaward Henderson,” his family said in the statement, adding later: “Bakari loved spending time with family and friends, traveling, and meeting new people. He was a big thinker and enjoyed coming up with new business ventures. Bakari was an inspiration to all he met. He loved life to the fullest.”
Some, including Phoebe C. Wadsworth, associate athletic director for the University of Arizona, expressed their condolences on social media:
— Phoebe C. Wadsworth (@Dr_Chalk) July 8, 2017
John Gramlich, a friend of Henderson’s, told NBC affiliate KXAN that they met in elementary school and had become best friends.
“We played basketball together, we traveled to Europe together, we’ve done practically everything together,” Gramlich said, adding later: “We were just all in disbelief and shock that that could happen to Bakari.”
University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins said in a statement that the school is “shocked and saddened” by Henderson’s sudden death.
“Our hearts and prayers are with his friends and family. I can only imagine the deep sense of loss they must be feeling at his untimely death,” Robbins said. “It is always a tragedy when a young life ends before it has really yet to begin.”
U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said Friday night that he is in touch with State Department officials to make sure Henderson’s friends get home safely.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) July 8, 2017
In anther statement, U.S. Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) said: “My thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones of Bakari Henderson, whose life was senselessly and brutally cut short this weekend. The loss of our recent University of Arizona graduate is truly tragic and shocking, and I offer my deepest condolences to all who knew him.”
Zakynthos, the third-largest island in the Ionian Sea, is known for its nightlife, picturesque views, crystal-clear waters and limestone cliffs. The Associated Press described Laganas, the village where the bar is located, as being known for rowdy behavior by young tourists.