A new ad released Friday by Donald Trump's campaign team tells the story of Jamiel Shaw, a Los Angeles man who lost his teenage son in 2008 when a man in the U.S. illegally randomly shot and killed 17-year-old Jas.
In his first interview since the ad debuted, Shaw, an African-American man, told the Washington Examiner why he chose to support the Republican Manhattan billionaire who has been criticized by some as a racist and a phony.
It started on March 2, 2008, in the Arlington Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles were Jas had been walking home, talking with his girlfriend on a cellphone. He was three doors down from his house when a car pulled up by him. Two Hispanic men in the vehicle asked Jas which gang he belonged to. Police reports indicate Jas did not respond, which frustrated one of the men who pulled out a gun and shot the teen.
Jamiel, inside the family home, heard the shots and ran outside to find his son, a boy he judged to have been on the "right path," bleeding from bullet wounds. Jas later died at the hospital.
In the days that followed that incident, Shaw tried to piece together the perfect storm of conditions that created this tragedy. Shaw learned the man who had killed his son was an illegal immigrant who had just been released from jail.
The incident gained national attention for a short time, prompting former president George W. Bush to write a condolence letter. But it was quickly forgotten, and Shaw didn't quite know what to do.
"Since my son was dead, I pretty much gave up on being happy," Shaw said. He said he gave in to grieving day in and day out. Shaw also admitted a frustration of not being able to express the sorrow he had to others.
Trump unexpectedly reached out to Shaw last year about the murder and asked for a meeting at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles hotel, which left Shaw stunned.
"To see somebody, especially a billionaire, come out. I can't even get a neighborhood politician to come out, that's why it's so surreal to me," Shaw said.
The two shared an intimate moment shortly after meeting last year. "He told me to my face, he said, 'I promise you I would never let your son's life be in vain.' To me it felt like the [future] president cared about me," an emotional Shaw shared.
Shaw told the Washington Examiner that he never reached out to the Trump campaign about immigration policy, and especially the deportation of violent criminals of the kind who killed his son. He believes someone on Trump's team saw an interview he did on Fox News.
Trump's meeting with Shaw and promise to reform immigration laws were a transformative moment for Shaw, who was previously a Democrat but had switched to Independent following the death of his son.
"People are looking at immigration as just an immigration issue, but people are dying. It's a fact. What good is the economy, healthcare, going to school, if people are dying?" Shaw asked. "Trump is doing things he doesn't have to do. He can buy a whole island and get away from crime."
The journey for Shaw in the eight years since his son's death still takes a toll on him, he said. But now he has some hope, that in helping to change the policies that abetted his son's murder, he can find a way to go on.
"This was the first time I thought everything's really gonna be all right. To me, he was sent from God," said Shaw.