Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Lito Sheppard -- a standout at Raines High School and the University of Florida -- blasted his hometown in a Philadelphia newspaper after the shooting death of his cousin in Jacksonville over the weekend.
Sheppard's cousin, Terrell Buiey, was gunned down in what police said may have been a robbery in Arlington Saturday.
Buiey, 26, was raised in the same home as Sheppard and treated like a brother. Buiey was supposed to fly to Philadelphia Sunday to see his cousin play in the NFL Divisional Playoff game against the Vikings.
Eight days before that shooting, Sheppard told the Philadelphia Daily News, "Jacksonville is a crazy place." The newspaper interviewed the Eagle with deep roots in Jacksonville about the site of this year's Super Bowl. He called the area around Raines High, "a ghetto."
After Buiey's death, Sheppard would only say, "It was really a tragedy."
Jacksonville police won't release much information about the circumstances of the shooting, but Sheppard's mother said Buiey died in a shootout with two masked robbers who held guns to his wife and stepson and demanded cash and jewelry.
Jacksonville City Council member Pat Lockett-Felder told Channel 4 she could understand the Sheppard's comments in light of his family's tragic loss, but said the incident should not hurt Jacksonville reputation.
"I'm sorry all this killing goes on, but do you know that in California, they have the same problem," Locket-Felder said. "Do you know in Philadelphia they have double the problem? The young people now say they have problems. But it's all over the world; it isn't just Jacksonville."
The Daily News' story mentions a recent increase in violent crime in Jacksonville and that the sheriff's department is under U.S. Attorney and FBI investigation for a pair of deaths of suspects in custody in December.
City leaders know that being in the national spotlight comes with a great deal of scrutiny.
"It doesn't mean because one bad thing happened, it doesn't make everything bad about Jacksonville," Lockett-Felder told Channel 4's Scott Johnson. "We're not a bad place to live. And we're having a little problem now, but every city in the United States of America, they have problems."
- January 10, 2005: One Killed, One Hurt In Separate Arlington Shootings