Neighbors, teammates: Suspect in face-biting deaths wouldn’t ‘hurt a fly’

Neighbors and former football teammates of Austin Harrouff remembered him as fun, quiet and obedient -- even gentle.

The Martin County Sheriff’s Office said Harrouff, 19, stabbed a husband and wife to death late Monday at a home in Martin County, Florida. Authorities found him biting the face of one of the victims.

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Harrouff’s former teammates at Suncoast Community High School had a hard time reconciling that image with the player they knew. If anything, his coaches tried to persuade him to be an angrier player as a defensive lineman.

"Anyone on our team would tell you that this is the last thing Austin would do," said Matt Dame, the Suncoast quarterback who now plays at Columbia University in New York.

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“The coaches would always try to get him mad and play angry, and he never had it in him. I didn’t think he would hurt a fly, to be honest.”

The news also shocked Josh Lonsberry, who played linebacker and running back for Suncoast before graduating in May and who is now a freshman at Florida State, where Harrouff is enrolled.

“He was a really nice, smart kid,” Lonsberry said. “He barely spoke, and when he did, it was always, ‘Yes, sir,’ or ‘No, sir.’ “

“It’s crazy to think that he was sober and did that,” Lonsberry said.

Harrouff was also a wrestler at Suncoast, winning all-conference honors for Palm Beach County in 2014.

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Martin County Sheriff William Snyder said Harrouff has no criminal record and was getting good grades at Florida State, where he was a pre-exercise science major.

Shannon Pastore and her 14-year-old son, Adam, were shocked Tuesday afternoon when they pulled into their garage in The Shores, a neighborhood in Jupiter near where the slayings took place, and were told by reporters from The Palm Beach Post that the young man who grew up across the street has been charged with killing two people.

“I can’t believe he would do something like that. We used to stay up late at night and play games. He was a big, friendly guy. He was not violent. He must have been on something to do something that terrible,” Adam said.

Harrouff, who is about 6 feet tall and weighs about 200 pounds, often stayed with his mother, Mina, at their home in The Shores, an affluent development of single-family homes just north of Indiantown Road and east of I-95, Shannon said.

Harrouff’s parents divorced about seven years ago. Harrouff, a graduate of Suncoast High School, was taking a summer class at Palm Beach State College in preparation for going back to Florida State, Shannon said.

“I can’t believe this could happen. Austin was always such a nice young man,” Shannon said.

The extreme violence of the murders and Harrouff’s actions during the arrest were a total surprise to Adam.

“It scares me that I spent so much time with him and hearing about what he did. But he was always nice to me. Something must have come over him,” Adam said.

A man answered the door at the Martin County house owned by Harrouff’s father, Wade Harrouff, but declined to comment. Wade Harrouff is a dentist with an office in Chasewood Plaza on Indiantown Road.

A neighbor said the house had been rented several times through the years. He said he waved to Wade but did not speak with him. Other residents said the same.

“He did not seem like a happy man. There was never much activity at the house. I never heard any music or saw any parties going on there,” Mark Smith said.