Two Florida International University football players visiting a friend in Opa-locka were shot and injured Thursday afternoon in what police said was a drive-by shooting.
The players, highly regarded junior running back Anthony Jones and freshman offensive lineman Mershawn Miller, were both transported to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
Jones was airlifted after being shot in the face and the back, but his injuries didn’t appear to be life-threatening, said Opa-locka Police Chief James Dobson.
Miller was taken by ambulance after being shot in the arm. He’s been released from the hospital.
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The shooting happened around 2:30 p.m., just outside a home at 2400 NW 140st St.
“Somebody drove by and starting shooting from a vehicle,” Dobson said.
Dobson said police were looking for a newer model, four-door gray Nissan Sentra with no tag. He said detectives at the hospital hadn’t been able to speak with the shooting victims by late afternoon. They were both stable and conscious, Dobson said. He said police were also talking to people in the neighborhood and looking for any video surveillance that might have captured any part of the incident.
A man in a wheelchair at the light blue home where the shooting took place said the two players were there to visit his son. He said bullets fired from the car outside his home pierced a wall in the home and struck a refrigerator inside. Family members said a group of at least five were hanging out, including the son of the homeowner.
Late in the afternoon, a woman was scrubbing the front entranceway to the home and its driveway with a brush.
Two Opa-locka patrol cars were parked out front. At one point during the early evening, a detective wearing dark gloves removed the outside screen of a window where a bullet had lodged in the frame. A small group had gathered just outside the home, but no one would discuss the shooting.
Outside the hospital Thursday night, Mershawn Miller’s father Emerson Miller told reporters his son was “at the wrong place at the wrong time” and referred to the shooter as a coward, according to NBC6.
“You shot two good kids trying to do something with themselves,” he said. “You’re out here doing nothing.”
FIU officials released a brief statement immediately after the shooting, saying their thoughts and prayers are with the families. Neither FIU football coach Butch Davis nor any other athletic department coach or administrator made a statement. The FIU football Twitter feed seemed to refer to the shootings obliquely Friday morning.
The news angered people at various levels of South Florida sports.
Ken LaVicka, a play-by-play radio announcer with FIU rival Florida Atlantic University in Palm Beach County, tweeted, “We give each other crap constantly, but thinking about the #FIU family tonight. Pointless, useless, needless violence. Stupid.”
Jones, who missed the 2017 season with a knee injury, ran for 88 yards and scored two touchdowns in the Panthers’ opening season loss to Indiana Saturday night.
“I’m just happy to be back out there with the guys,” he said after the game. “I love each and every one of them.”
Jones ran for 805 yards on 164 carries his first two seasons at FIU after an All-State senior season for Miami Central High’s nationally ranked team. Getting Jones, a highly touted back on a nationally ranked high school team, was considered a coup for the Panthers at the time.
Jones and former Florida State star running back Dalvin Cook, now with the Minnesota Vikings, were raised together. Though Cook is older than Jones and preceded Jones at Central, Jones is Cook’s uncle.
Miller, a three-star recruit out of Central who sat out last season as a red-shirt, played in his first game Saturday.
Herald writer Walter Villa contributed to this story.