LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A 17-year-old high school football star is dead, gunned down on a sidewalk a few yards from his home in what authorities are calling a random, unprovoked gang attack.
Jamiel Andre Shaw, a standout running back at Los Angeles High School and the Southern League's most valuable player last season, shot about 8:40 p.m. Sunday just a few doors away from his home in the Crenshaw area.
Police said Shaw was not a gang member, but was shot multiple times after he didn't respond when two men pulled up in a car and asked him "Where you from?" -- code for which gang did he belong to.
He died later at a local hospital.
His mother, Army Sgt. Anita Shaw, on Monday was her way back from Iraq, where she has been serving her second tour of duty.
His father, Jamiel Shaw Sr., said he called Jamiel on Sunday night, telling him to hurry home from the mall. A few moments after hanging up, Jamiel Sr. said, he heard the shots outside.
"They killed him while his mother is in Iraq fighting, dodging bullets, and she gets a phone call to say her son is on the streets of L.A., dead. For what?" Jamiel Sr. said.
His son's ultimate goal was to be a sports agent.
"I would tell him, 'I'm going to get you to 18, and if you do what you're supposed to do, you'll get to college' " the father recalled. "He was almost there."
Hardy Williams, football coach at Los Angeles High, said Jamiel was "a very special kid. Not only was he an outstanding athlete, he was a good person."
And, Williams said, he was "a Houdini on the football field."
Jamiel was an all-city first-team selection last season after he rushed for 1,052 yards, averaging more than 14 yards per carry, and scored 10 touchdowns. He also ran track.
In the past week, Williams said, Stanford and Rutgers universities contact him about Jamiel. "He was elated," Williams recalled.
Police said they are seeking the public's help in identifying the suspects, whom officials described only as two Latino men in a white compact sedan. Investigators believe the shooting was not racially motivated. Jamiel was black.
"Unfortunately, it's not uncommon in L.A. that we have some gang members approaching victims at random just to see if they are (gang members) or not," said police Detective Frank Carillo. "But to shoot them anyway, that's just disgusting."
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)