The family of an L.A. high school football star who was killed by an undocumented immigrant expressed support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's controversial views on Mexican immigrants, standing with Trump as he spoke about the issue in Beverly Hills Friday.
Relatives of Jamiel Shaw Jr. met with Trump at an undisclosed location Friday afternoon and later attended a news conference with him.
Shaw died at age 17 in a 2008 shooting near his Arlington Heights home when gang member Pedro Espinoza mistook him for a rival gang member because of the victim’s red Spider-Man backpack.
Espinoza, who was in the country illegally, was in 2012 sentenced to death for the murder. He had jumped out of a vehicle, shot Shaw in the stomach and then fired a second execution-style shot in his head.
Shaw was a running back at Los Angeles High School and had been named the Southern League's most valuable player. He reportedly drew interest from Stanford and Rutgers universities.
The victim’s parents have recently come out in support of Trump, who has been in the spotlight more than usual since he referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists" when announcing his candidacy on June 16 for the Republican presidential nomination.
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people,” Trump said. “They’re sending us not the right people.”
Since making those comments, Trump has seen his ties cut with NBC Universal, Univision, Macy’s and the PGA of America. Trump’s businesses’ alleged employment of undocumented Mexican workers has also come under scrutiny since he made the comments.
Meanwhile, he has vaulted to the top of a crowded field of Republican hopefuls, and many commentators have spoken up in support of the former reality television star.
Early Friday evening, speaking at the Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills, Trump complained that his comments were being cut down and oversimplified by news media. He said he had "great relationships" with Mexicans, but he faulted the country's leaders.
"They're sending people into our country that we don't want, but we take, and that they don't want," Trump said of Mexico. "You know who they're sending."
Jamiel Shaw's father stood behind Trump as he spoke, as did several other people who said their relatives had been killed by immigrants in the country illegally.
Jamiel Shaw’s mother, Anita Shaw, had drawn attention Wednesday when the Daily Mail’s West Coast correspondent published a story in which Shaw endorsed Trump.
Jamiel Shaw Jr.’s father told FoxNews.com the same day that Trump’s comments about immigrants made him “happy for the first time.”
The family held an impromptu news conference in Arlington Heights Friday afternoon, before the event in Beverly Hills with Trump. Jamiel Shaw Sr.'s sister, Althea Shaw, said Trump’s office had reached out to the family though Fox News after Jamiel Shaw Sr. spoke to the network about his support for Trump.
“It’s a blessing,” she said.
"We love Mr. Trump. We're happy, because we know he spoke up and he said something," Althea Shaw said later at the Beverly Hills news conference.
Jamiel Shaw Sr. compared his son’s death to that of 32-year-old Kate Steinle, who was shot to death on a pier in San Francisco this month, allegedly by an undocumented immigrant who had been deported five times. The suspect, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, admitted to a local TV news reporter that he shot Steinle.
“Put yourself in that same spot,” Jamiel Shaw Sr. said. “From grandfathers to babies have been victims of illegal aliens. So for people to act like it’s not happening because you didn’t say it the right way — that’s a cop out.”
Shaw Sr. said Trump's statements about immigration resonated with him.
"To me, he said it right. He was light on them. He just said 'rape.' Come on, I would have said 'murder,'" Shaw Sr. said. "You don't have to know how to say everything, you just have to have action. ... He's telling the truth."
“The only difference between me and Donald Trump is that he is rich, so he’s able to withstand the onslaught to get his point across. That’s why he don’t care what people think,” Shaw said. “Me, on the other hand, I don’t have nothing.”
Trump was in the Los Angeles area Friday, reportedly for a meeting with a “secret” conservative group of Hollywood industry actors and executives called Friends of Abe, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Local immigrant rights group CHIRLA, or Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, planned to protest Trump's visit outside the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel, where the group said he was set to meet with Friends of Abe.