NEW YORK(CBS/AP) In March 2008, Jamiel Shaw II, a 17-year-old high school football star with college ball aspirations, was less than three blocks from his home in the Crenshaw area of Los Angeles when, according to the Los Angeles Times, two males got out of their car and asked, "Where you from?"
Shaw, who was speaking with his girlfriend on a cell phone at the time, didn't respond to the question. He was gunned down and left for dead on the sidewalk.
His father, Jamiel Shaw Sr., heard the gunshots from his home and rushed outside where he found his son fatally wounded on the ground. The teen was rushed to a hospital, but succumbed to his injuries.
Jamiel Sr. was proud of his son, who planned to become a sports agent after graduating from college, the Times reported. The elder Shaw told CBS affiliate KCBS, "He was set. He was going to college…he was my hero."
The boy's mother, Anita, was serving in Iraq as a sergeant when she got the news that her son had been slain. She immediately flew home to be with her family.
Anita compared the gang violence in her hometown to the bloodshed she saw in Iraq in an interview with the Times. "The only thing is we don't have sand and dirt flying all around," she said. "But we have the bullets."
Now, the illegal immigrant gang member who allegedly shot and killed Jamiel Shaw II may face the death penalty if prosecutors get their way. Pedro Espinoza, a 20-year-old member of the 18th Street gang, is being charged with first-degree murder along with a special circumstance gang allegation. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The younger Shaw was a high school football defensive back who, in his junior year, rushed for more than 1,000 yards and scored 11 touchdowns, and was also recognized as MVP for the Southern League in 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported. Coaches at Stanford and Rutgers University were recruiting Shaw, according to KCBS.
Espinoza had been released from a jail on a firearms charge one day before the teen was killed.
Shaw's family has been particularly outraged at the LA Sheriff's Department. They have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the department on the grounds that Espinoza should have been turned over to immigration authorities instead of being freed.