A 2-year-old son of Minnesota Vikings star running back AdrianPeterson died on Friday in a Sioux Falls, S.D., hospital, the victim ofalleged abuse by a man dating the boy's mother, police confirmed.
Peterson'sfather Nelson confirmed Friday afternoon that the child is AdrianPeterson's. Peterson met with the media Friday, hours before the boypassed away, and said at the time he still planned to play in Sunday'sgame against Carolina, but declined to get into details about the case.
"Ireally appreciate all the support that I've been receiving from fans,the Vikings organization," said Peterson, who was excused to missThursday's Vikings practice before returning Friday. "This is a privatematter and I would ask you all to please just respect my privacy and notask at all about the situation at hand."
Police arrested JosephRobert Patterson, 27, who was initially charged with aggravated assaultand aggravated assault on an infant. Sioux Falls police said additionalcharges are being considered.
Patterson has a prior domestic abuserecord with a different woman and child, having pleaded guilty tosimple assault in an incident last year involving an adult female andjuvenile male.
Sioux Falls police said Patterson recently started arelationship with the mother of the 2-year-old victim. Pattersonappeared in court Friday morning in Canton, S.D. His bond had been setat $750,000 in cash before the boy's death.
The incident occurredin Patterson's apartment, where the boy had recently moved with hismother. Patterson called 911 on Wednesday evening to report a choking atthe Platinum Valley apartment, but Lt. Blaine Larsen of the Sioux FallsPolice Department said it became clear at the hospital that the boy'sinjuries were not accidental.
Sioux Falls police said the incident was initially reported as a medical emergency.
"Asofficers and first responders got there, they found child wasunresponsive and he was taken to the hospital," police spokesman SamClemens told USA TODAY Sports. "So they ended up calling police aboutthat or letting them know. We had detectives talk to quite a few peopleto try to figure out what happened. What they ended up finding was thatwhen the injuries happened there was one person with that child, andthat person was Joseph Patterson."
"The injuries they found werehead injuries," Clemens said. "It was obvious to medical staff thatabuse had taken place and that those injuries weren't accidental."
Clemens said police believe the child's mother was "gone for a short time, and that's when we believe the injury occurred."
Inthe aftermath of Patterson's latest arrest, the Lincoln Countyprosecutor's office on Friday filed motions to order Patterson to servetwo year-long sentences that had been suspended in two prior domesticcases - one for the simple assault case and another for violating anorder to stay away from the victim in that case. Those motions will beheard later this month.
Court records show that Patterson has ason with another Sioux Falls woman, and also show that the mother hadasked for protection orders twice, claiming he'd choked and punched her,threatened her with a knife and held her in the bedroom against herwill.
The mother chose not to pursue permanent protection orders, which ultimately were dropped voluntarily in 2010 and 2011.
In2012, Patterson was charged with simple assault against the mother,however, and was ordered to undergo family violence training and to stayaway from her until completing it.
Patterson's child lives with his mother, who declined to comment Friday morning when reached by The Argus Leader.
Another woman applied for a protection order against Patterson in 2004 in Jackson County, where he attended high school.
Vikingscoach Leslie Frazier, speaking before news of the child's death, saidFriday that it would be up to Peterson whether he plays this week.
"We'llsee how things go with him," Frazier said. "We expect him to play, butthis is a very personal situation that he's dealing with."
Vikings running back Toby Gerhart said many players had reached out to Peterson.
"Weconsider each other family and brothers. It's clichéd and everybodysays, 'We've got each other's back' when we go on a football field, butwhen something like this happens, it's truly a testament of being ateammate and how tight this family is," Gerhart said.
"It's a tough situation. We all reached out to him yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family."
Peterson, meanwhile, said football helps get him through tough times.
"Iplan on playing Sunday," he said. "I will be playing Sunday, correctthat. I'll be ready to roll, focused. I'm worried about getting a W onSunday, being 1-0... You know, football is something I will always fallback on. It gets me through tough times. Just being around the guys inhere, that's what I need in my life, guys supporting me and just beingable to go out and play this game I love. Things that I go through, I'vesaid a thousand times, it helps me play this game to a different level.I'm able to kind of release a lot of my stress through this sport, sothat's what I plan on doing."
Sean Jensen contributed to thisreport. Information from the Sioux Falls, S.D. Argus Leader, a Gannettnews outlet, was included in this report. Follow sports writer BrentSchrotenboer on Twitter @Schrotenboer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org