After University of Alabama basketball player Darius Miles was charged with murder in the death of a 23-year-old mother and removed from the team, relatives of the victim say she was killed shot when she refused to let a man try to flirt with her.
Miles, 21, and Michael Lynn Davis, 20, were arrested and charged with capital murder in the shooting death of Jamea Jonae Harris near the college campus early Sunday, the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit said.
Miles was the only person connected to the University of Alabama involved in the shooting, authorities said. The university’s athletic department announced on Sunday that he had been removed from the basketball team.
When police responded to the shooting around 1:45 a.m. Sunday, they discovered Harris had been shot and killed while in a car less than half a mile from campus, authorities said.
Harris and her boyfriend had traveled to Tuscaloosa from Birmingham to visit her cousin, who is a student at the University of Alabama, Harris’s mother, DeCarla Cotton, told CNN.
Harris’ boyfriend told Cotton the three of them were going to have something to eat after a night out when a man approached Harris and began flirting with her, the mother said.
“He was advancing towards her and she refused his attention. He refused to leave,” Cotton told CNN. “As they were trying to leave, a man approached the car and started shooting.”
Harris’ boyfriend returned fire and punched one of the suspects, Cotton said. The suspect then went to a local hospital, which helped connect him to the shooting, she added. Investigators said one of the suspects was hit by the gunfire and suffered a non-life-threatening injury.
Authorities did not say which suspect shot in the car or which one was injured. Both suspects are being held without bond, the Violent Crimes Unit said.
Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit Capt. Jack Kennedy said the motive for the shooting appeared to be “a minor altercation these individuals had with the victim while on the Strip,” which is a center of restaurants and businesses near the university campus.
“She was not a troublemaker,” Cotton said of her daughter. “She was a hardworking mother who got up every day to take care of her son,” Cotton said.
Harris’ 5-year-old son is staying with Cotton, the mother said. “I haven’t found the words yet to explain this to him,” she said.
Miles’ attorneys said in a statement obtained by CNN affiliate WBRC that Miles and his family are “heartbroken” by Harris’ death, but “he maintains his innocence and looks forward to his day in court.”
Miles, who is from Washington, DC, is a junior in college, according to an archived version of the men’s basketball roster. He was playing his third season as a forward for the Alabama Crimson Tide before being cut from the team on Sunday, the archived page says.
University of Alabama men’s basketball head coach Nate Oats said at a Monday news conference that the weekend’s events were “truly a tragedy all around.”
“I just want to start today by offering our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jamea Jonae Harris, a young woman, daughter and mother who was taken away far too soon from a senseless act,” he said. he declared at the opening of the conference.
The team met Sunday night to discuss the shooting and the arrest of their teammate, Oats said.
“We continue to support each other as we process this and balance school and basketball,” he said.
The team will continue training for Tuesday’s game against Vanderbilt University, Oats said.
“I wish we didn’t have to deal with this situation, but we have to stick together as a team at this point and…really be there for each other,” Oats said, adding that players are aware of additional support services available. on campus and within the athletics department.
The university said it was cooperating with the investigation, along with the athletics department.