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, the victim’s loved ones say she was shot and killed when she refused a man who tried with her to flirt.
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 associated with the University of Alabama involved in the shooting, authorities said. The university’s athletic department announced on Sunday that he has been removed from the basketball team.
When police responded to the shooting around 1:45 a.m. Sunday, they found that Harris had been fatally shot while sitting in a car less than half a mile from campus, authorities said.
Harris and her boyfriend had driven to Tuscaloosa from Birmingham to visit her cousin, who attends the University of Alabama, Harris’ mother DeCarla Cotton told CNN.
Harris’s boyfriend told Cotton that the three of them were going out for dinner after a night out when a man approached Harris and started flirting with her, the mother said.
“He approached her and she refused his attention. He refused to leave,” Cotton told CNN. “As they were trying to leave, a gentleman walked up to the car and started shooting.”
Harris’ friend returned fire, hitting one of the suspects, Cotton said. The suspect later went to a local hospital, which helped link him to the shooting, she added. Investigators have said one of the suspects was hit by the return gunfire and suffered a non-life-threatening wound.
Authorities have not clarified which suspect allegedly fired into the car or who was injured. Both suspects are being held without bond, the violent crimes unit said.
Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit Captain Jack Kennedy said the shooting’s motive appeared to be “a minor altercation these individuals had with the victim while they were on The Strip,” a hub of restaurants and businesses near the campus of the University.
“She wasn’t a troublemaker,” Cotton said of her daughter. “She was a hard-working mother who got up every day to take care of her son,” said Cotton.
Harris’s 5-year-old son is staying with Cotton, the mother said. “I haven’t found the words to explain this to him yet,” she said.
Miles’ lawyers said in a statement obtained by CNN affiliate WBRC that Miles and his family are “heartbroken” over Harris’s death, but “he maintains his innocence and looks forward to his day in court.”
Miles, who is from Washington, D.C., is a junior at the university, according to an archived version of the men’s basketball team roster. He was in the process of playing his third season as a forward for the Alabama Crimson Tide before being cut from the team on Sunday, the archived page shows.
University of Alabama men’s basketball head coach Nate Oats said at a news conference Monday that the weekend’s events “are truly a tragedy.”
“I would like to begin today with our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jamea Jonae Harris, a young wife, daughter and mother who was taken far too soon from a senseless act,” he said at the opening of the conference.
The team met on Sunday evening to discuss the shooting and arrest of their teammate, Oats said.
“We will continue to support each other as we work through this and balance school and basketball,” he said.
The team will continue to practice in preparation for Tuesday’s game against Vanderbilt University, Oats said.
“I wish we didn’t have to deal with this situation, but we need to work together as a team right now and… really be there for each other,” Oats said, adding that the players are made aware of additional support services that are available. on campus and within the athletics department.
The university has said it is cooperating with the investigation, along with the athletics department.