JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The family of a teenage boy shot and killed in a drive-by shooting on the way from a football tryout has hired a law firm to try to get answers.
Sitting next to Prince Holland’s mother, Chantel Brown, at a news conference Wednesday afternoon, attorney Marwan Porter, manager partner of the Porter Law Firm, said the office was “retained to investigate why this tragic incident happened, how it happened, and most importantly, how it could have been prevented.”
“Specifically,” Porter continued, “we’re going to be investigating the organization that put on this tryout and get an understanding of the policies and procedures or the lack thereof that they had.”
Holland’s family is desperate for answers.
“My son didn’t get to come home, and he can never come home because he rode in the car with somebody,” his mother said.
Shortly before 6:30 p.m. Dec. 3, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Holland, 13, was traveling in an SUV with four other people after leaving football tryouts when someone pulled up to the intersection of Moncrief Road West and New Kings Road in Northwest Jacksonville and opened fire on the vehicle.
Holland died as a result of his injuries. The 21-year-old driver and an 11-year-old boy were also shot in the drive-by but are expected to survive. The other two boys, ages 14 and 15, were uninjured.
Attorney John Phillips, who is representing the driver of the SUV in which Holland was shot and killed, said the 21-year-old, who is a coach, was shot 10 times while trying to shield the children, who he was taking home from football, in the vehicle from gunfire.
Prince’s family is now asking questions about the league putting on the tryouts at the Legends Center on Soutel Drive.
The family’s attorney announced at Wednesday’s news conference that they are looking into the group behind the tryouts. The family said, according to a flyer that was sent out in a text, the tryouts were being held by the Ambitious Kings and Queens Lions Youth Organization.
According to state records, the group was registered as a nonprofit based in Jacksonville in October. The group said its mission is to give back to children through sports while providing a foundation of discipline.
Holland’s mother said her son and some friends walked to the Legends Center for tryouts and were supposed to walk home together, but her attorney said the coaching staff suggested he ride home with one of the coaches. According to the attorney’s law firm, Holland’s parents were never asked permission for him to ride home with the coach, who they called a stranger, and they were never asked to sign any kind of release forms or waivers.
“I can’t hug my baby. I can’t kiss my baby good night. Why? Because you couldn’t make a phone call and ask was it OK?” Holland’s mother said.
UNCUT: Press the play button below to watch the news conference held by the family of Prince Holland.
After the news conference, News4JAX spoke by phone with Micheal Holmes, president of the Ambitious Kings and Queens Lions Youth Organization. He said Holland and the other teens in the car told the coaching staff that they had permission from their parents to get a ride home with the coach. He said he told Holland multiple times to have his parents contact him.
Holmes also said Holland never walked to the football tryout.
“Prince not only rode with one of the coaches from our meet-and-greet training and tryouts, but he also rode there, as well, with that same coach in that same vehicle,” he said.
Holmes said that although Holland’s parents never called him and gave verbal consent for him, the coaches and the staff to give Holland a ride, he said that he asked Holland point-blank if Holland’s mother said it was OK to do so prior to Holland ever getting into the coach’s SUV.
“From my understanding with Prince in front of my house, when I asked him, ‘Did your mother or father say you could ride with me, the coach or whoever?’ They said yes — every kid in front of my house, and I have that on video. My mom and I are actually in the process of getting that video from Xfinity,” Holmes said.
Holmes called the allegations made in the news conference defamation of character. He said Holland’s family is using Holland’s death to smear his name and the organization he created.
“That’s them basically saying like we kidnapped their child,” Holmes said. “Like, that’s crazy.”
Holmes added that the brand-new youth football organization, which he started two months ago with the hope of doing something positive for children, was in the process of getting waivers from parents.
The attorney representing Holland’s family said they plan to pursue litigation if they find the organization did not act properly.
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Before Wednesday’s news conference, Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters was asked at an unrelated active shooter drill at Atlantic Coast High School about the investigation into the fatal shooting of Holland.
“We are making some progress. That’s all I’ll say,” Waters told reporters. “And I hope you guys understand this when I say that we’re making progress. And then I don’t give you a whole bunch because the integrity of the investigation is very, very important. Given all the information that only we know and the bad guy knows, that can mess us up in the long run. Spending a long time working those kinds of investigations is very important for us, keeps a lot of that stuff close to us until we get to the point where we can make an arrest, but we are making some progress.”
Brown said at the news conference that she had not heard anything new lately on the investigation.
The law firm representing Holland’s family said the teen attended “Ribault Middle School, went to church every Sunday and dreamed of being a football player.” His favorite NFL team was the Kansas City Chiefs. The family was emotional during the news conference while talking about what a bright and loving child he was.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact JSO by calling 904-630-0500 or emailing JSOCrimeTips@jaxsheriff.org. To remain anonymous, contact First Coast Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS (8477). There is a $9,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.