CINCINNATI – The death of Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson on Super Bowl Sunday was a tragic reminder of the killing of another Colts player – a Cincinnati high school star – 26 years ago.
Shane Curry, 24, was a young player with a great football future. The former Princeton High star, a second-round draft choice, was getting ready for his second NFL season after playing reserve defensive end as a Colts rookie in 1991.
Curry was living his dream, his mother said.
"He accomplished everything I expected of him and more when he was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts last year," Sandra Curry said. "That was his rookie year. He didn't play a lot. This was his year."
Curry was shot in the head by a 15-year-old boy with a rusted .38 revolver.
Curry was in town visiting his family and had gone with friends to a bar at the Armada Inn in Roselawn on a Saturday night in May, 1992.
As 1 a.m neared, they decided to leave and Curry got in his Chevy Blazer and started to drive out of the parking lot. But a Volvo blocked the exit, and Curry exchanged words with the 19-year-old driver, according to police.
Out of the darkness, a teen walked up to Curry’s open window, stuck a gun barrel to his head and pulled the trigger once.
WATCH Tim McGee of the Bengals talk about Curry at his funeral here:
Curry fell dying into the lap of his friend in the passenger seat.
The shooter ran, but an off-duty Hamilton County Sheriff’s deputy answered the shots-fired call and tackled him in the woods a few blocks away.
Rumors spread quickly. The teen was a hit man, according to one. He was supposed to take out a drug dealer from Detroit but shot the wrong man. Prosecutors denied that immediately.
The shooter, Artise Anderson, turned out to be the other driver’s nephew. Anderson had grown up in the poor, violent Washington, D.C. area and adopted the persona of a tough street kid, his mother later said. She had brought him to Mount Healthy to live with his grandparents. She wanted to get him away from D.C. crime and go to school, she said.
She had gone back to her job in D.C. and Anderson, who had been in Cincinnati about a month, had not enrolled, Anderson's mother said.
Anderson said he had stolen the gun from his uncle’s room. He didn’t mean to kill Curry, Anderson told police and a jury. He said he only meant to scare Curry after he saw the football player argue with his uncle.
The next day, Curry’s family and friends were beside themselves in grief. Many gathered at his mother’s house in Bond Hill to comfort her. But Curry’s mother, a strong-minded social worker who said she had seen all kinds of violence in her job, stood outside her front door and stoically talked to a WCPO reporter about her son and society’s ills.
“I’m a social worker. I deal with the drive-by shootings, the homicides, the rapes, the sexual offenses every day. I never expected it to enter into my own family,” she said.
“For something like this to happen to him, it’s just totally unbelievable and I don’t think it’s hit me yet. But I think we all need to look at this very seriously. Someone can walk to your car and shoot you with a gun and then walk away.”
WATCH Shane Curry's mother blame the shooter's parents here:
Curry’s mother blamed the shooter’s parents – and parents in general - for the lawlessness she had witnessed in her job and then in her own family.
“Parents, you need to keep your underage children at home. You need to know where your children are. You need to know what they’re doing,” she said. ”If they’re doing drugs, if they’re selling crack, if they’re carrying weapons, stop it.”
More than 500 people came to Curry's funeral to celebrate his life. At 6-5, 270, he had a big presence and a big smile and a big heart to match. Mourners included David Fulcher, Ickey Woods and Tim McGee of the Bengals, Xavier basketball coach Pete Gillen and several of Curry's Colts and University of Miami teammates.
"This has affected us in a way that's hard to put into words," Colts GM Jim Irsay told the Enquirer.
Curry played on Miami's 1989 national championship team.
"I would ask God, 'Why Shane?'" said Curry's Miami roommate, Michael Johnson. "He was such a nice guy. He had everything going for him. A very outspoken, very positive person."
WATCH Artise Anderson testify here:
At the behest of county Prosecutor Joe Deters, a grand jury indicted Anderson for murder as an adult and sent his case from Juvenile Court to Common Pleas court.
At trial, Anderson said he shot Curry because he feared for his life when he stood face to face with the football player outside his Blazer. The jury didn’t buy that and returned a guilty verdict in four hours.
Because he was under 16, Anderson was not eligible for the death penalty. Judge Norbert Nadel sentenced him to the maximum – 15 years to life, plus three years under the gun specification. Anderson became one of the youngest prisoners at the state penitentiary at Lucasville.
Anderson is no longer imprisoned in Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.