After University of Alabama basketball player Darius Miles was charged with the murder of a 23-year-old mother and removed from the team, the victim’s family say she was shot when she rejected a man who tried to flirt with her .
Miles, 21, and Michael Lynn Davis, 20, have been arrested and charged with murder in the shooting of Jamea Jonae Harris near the university 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 athletics department announced Sunday that he had been removed from the basketball team.
When police responded to the shooting around 1:45 a.m. Sunday, they found Harris had been fatally shot while she was 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 is studying at the University of Alabama, Harris’ mother, DeCarla Cotton, told CNN.
Harris’ friend told Cotton that the three were getting something to eat after a long 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 go away,” Cotton told CNN. “As they were trying to leave, a gentleman walked up to the car and started shooting.”
Harris’ friend fired back and punched one of the suspects, Cotton said. The suspect later went to a local hospital, which helped link him to the shooting, she added. Investigators said one of the suspects was hit by the returning gunfire and suffered a non-life-threatening wound.
Authorities have not clarified which suspect allegedly shot 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 motive for the shooting was “a minor altercation these individuals had with the victim while they were out 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 hardworking mom who got up every day to take care of her son,” Cotton said.
Harris’ 5-year-old son lives with Cotton, the mother said. “I still haven’t found the words to explain it to him,” she said.
Miles’ attorneys said in a statement seen 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 at the university, according to an archived version of the men’s basketball team roster. He was playing his third season as a forward for the Alabama Crimson Tide before being removed from the team on Sunday, the archived site shows.
University of Alabama men’s basketball head coach Nate Oats said in a news conference Monday that the events of the weekend were “a real tragedy all around.”
“I would like to begin today by expressing our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Jamea Jonae Harris, a young woman, daughter and mother who was taken from a senseless act far too early,” he said at the opening of the conference.
The team gathered Sunday night to discuss the shooting and 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 to practice in preparation for Tuesday’s game against Vanderbilt University, Oats said.
“I wish we didn’t have to address this situation, but we need to pull together as a team at this point and… really be there for one another,” Oats said, adding that players know additional support services are available on campus and in the athletics department.
The university has said it is working with the athletics department on the investigation.