A woman was allegedly killed because she refused to flirt with a University of Alabama basketball star, the victim’s mother has claimed.
Darius Miles, 21, has been removed from the team and charged with murder following the death of Jamea Jonae Harris, a 23-year-old mother.
Michael Lynn Davis, 20, has also been charged with murder after the shooting that took place close to the university campus early on Sunday, according to the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit.
Mr Miles was the only individual involved in the shooting with connections to the University of Alabama, the authorities noted.
The athletics department at the school said on Sunday that he had been removed from the team.
Police responded to the incident at around 1.45am on Sunday. Ms Harris was found to have been fatally shot in a vehicle within half a mile of the university campus.
Her mother, DeCarla Cotton, told CNN that Ms Harris had gone to Tuscaloosa with her boyfriend to visit her cousin who is studying at the school.
The boyfriend told Ms Cotton that the trio were getting a meal after going out for the night when a man walked up to Ms Harris and flirted with her, the mother told CNN.
“He was advancing on her and she declined his attention. He refused to go away,” she said. “While they were attempting to leave, one gentleman walked up to the car and started shooting.”
Ms Cotton added that the boyfriend returned fire, striking one of the suspects. When the suspect visited a hospital in the area, he was connected to the shooting.
One of the suspects was struck by the gunfire from Ms Harris’ partner and suffered a non-life-threatening injury.
Authorities haven’t said which of the detained suspects, Mr Miles or Mr Davis, is alleged to have shot at the car or which of them was injured. The violent crimes unit stated that they were both jailed without bond.
Jack Kennedy, a captain at the Tuscaloosa Violent Crimes Unit, said that the motive for the shooting seemed to be “a minor altercation that these individuals had with the victim as they were out on The Strip,” CNN reported.
The Strip is an area with a number of restaurants and other businesses close to the university campus.
“She wasn’t a troublemaker,” Ms Cotton told CNN regarding Ms Harris. “She was a hardworking mother who got up every day to take care of her son.”
Ms Harris’ son, who is five, is in the care of Ms Cotton.
“I haven’t found the words to explain this to him yet,” she said.
The lawyer for Mr Miles said in a statement that “Darius Miles and his family are heartbroken tonight over the death of Jamea Jonae Harris. While Darius has been accused of being involved with this tragedy, he maintains his innocence and looks forward to his day in court”.
“Our firm’s own investigation is ongoing, and no further statement will be made at this time,” attorney William White said, according to WBRC.
Mr Miles, from Washington, DC, is a junior at the University of Alabama and played as a forward for the school’s basketball team before the shooting. He was playing his third season with Alabama Crimson Tide before he was removed from the team on Sunday.
Nate Oats, the head coach of the team, said during a press briefing on Monday that it was “really 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 way too soon from a senseless act,” he said.
The coach said the team met on Sunday evening to discuss the shooting and the detention of Mr Miles.
“We’re continuing to support each other as we process this and balance school and basketball,” Mr Oats said.
“I wish we weren’t having to address this situation, but we’ve got to pull together as a team at this point and … really be there for each other,” he added.
The school has said that they’re cooperating with investigators.
“The University of Alabama’s utmost priority is the safety and well-being of the campus community. We are grieved by the incident that occurred near campus last night and extend our deepest condolences to the victim’s family and friends,” the school said in a statement.
“We are grateful for the quick and thorough response of law enforcement and emergency response teams, and we will continue to fully support the ongoing investigation. We were made aware of the recent charge against student-athlete Darius Miles; he has been removed from campus and is no longer a member of the Alabama men’s basketball team.”
It’s unclear if Mr Davis has retained an attorney to speak on his behalf.