Los Angeles Police chief William Bratton and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Tuesday that an arrest had been made in the shooting death of Jamiel Shaw Jr., a promising Los Angeles High School football player who was gunned down three doors from his home on March 2.
Shaw, who lived in the Arlington Heights section of Los Angeles, was returning from a nearby mall and was just three houses from his front door when two Latino gang members pulled up in a white compact car. They questioned him as to whether he belonged to a gang.
When Shaw didnt answer, one of the men pulled out a gun and shot Shaw, who later was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Shaws mother, Army Sgt. Anita Shaw, was stationed in Iraq when she received news that her son had been killed. She flew back to Los Angeles after receiving news of her sons death.
At the same time that Shaws parents were attending their sons funeral at West Los Angeles Church of God in Christ, Chief Bratton, flanked by Villaraigosa, announced at a City Hall news conference that Pedro Espinoza, a 19-year-old member of the Hispanic 18th Street Gang, had been arrested and charged in the killing. Espinoza, who had been released from jail a day before, could face the death penalty if convicted. Detectives continue to search for the second, unidentified person in the vehicle. Espinoza is scheduled to be arraigned March 25.
It was spontaneous, Bratton said of Espinozas shooting. He was a gang member. He saw someone else he thought was from an opposing gang and he immediately, almost intuitively, popped out of that car and shot that young boy twice.
Pausing, Bratton added, He assassinated him just on the belief that the other individual may have been a gang member. That is what we are up against in this city, sociopaths like that who just got out of jail and within a day had a gun and in an instant took that young boys life.
During an announcement that Deputy Chief Kenneth Garner had been appointed chief of the South Bureau at the Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable Saturday, Bratton denied charges leveled by several audience members that the recent gang shootings were an attempt to ethnically cleanse the city. Theres racial tension, yes–but I dont believe that these actions are an attempt at racial cleansing, Bratton said. Gang actions take lives and they fuel tensions between the races.
Villaraigosa, who also attended Shaws funeral, said that Shaws death had touched the city deeply. Jamiel Shaw represented the hope and opportunity of so many young people in our city. He was not only a star athlete, he was a star human being as well. He was a model for his peers. He worked hard, according to his coach. He played by the rules and set himself on a course toward college and a limitless future.
After the funeral, hundreds of friends and family gathered near the Shaws home for a repast and to reminisce about the teen.
Althea Shaw, the teens aunt, reflected, Jamiel was the type of person who was the life of the party. He would always greet you with a hug and a kiss. Shaw said that her nephew loved to read the Bible. He would ask me about Isaac, she recalled. The last time we talked, he said he was reading the chapter on Genesis.
Corey Cogman, 14, who attended New Vision Community Church with Jamiel, recalls, He was a nice person and a good friend. We would play pool, video games, and basketball in the backyard.
Cogman said he was about to leave his house to play a game of basketball when he glanced at the television and saw Jamiels father holding a photo. Then I looked at the photo and I saw it was Jamiel. The news announcer said he had been killed. I went into shock, said Cogman.
Keronnie White, 17, who was on the football team with Jamiel at Los Angeles High School, recalled, Jamiel was a great kid. He was a great running back, he was really, really fast. Jamiel and I were just talking about what college we were going to attend together, said White, who added that he and Jamiel had been close friends.
Shaw was named 2007 MVP in both his team and the Southern League. The athlete had recently received calls from recruiters at Rutgers and Stanford universities.