Jim Dey: Still no arrest in Locksley case

Jim Dey: Still no arrest in Locksley case

Nearly two months after the murder of a onetime Centennial High School football star and son of a former Illini football coach, police in Maryland remain baffled by the case.

Authorities have issued repeated calls for assistance in finding the individual who fatally shot and killed 25-year-old Meiko Anthony Locksley late Sept. 3 near an apartment complex in Columbia, Md. They have offered a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of the shooter.

Authorities said that Mr. Locksley — the son of Mike Locksley, a former offensive coordinator for the University of Illinois football team under Ron Zook — was shot once in the head.

In a statement issued in the aftermath of the shooting, the Howard County Department of Police said "officers were called to the 5500 block of Harpers Ferry Road at approximately 10:20 p.m. for a report of an adult male with a gunshot wound."

They transported Mr. Locksley to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, "where he was pronounced dead overnight."

Since then, according to department spokesman Seth Hoffman, no arrests have been made and "there is no new information in the investigation" to release.

Authorities said the "multiple callers reported hearing a single gunshot and a resident located Locksley outside and called 911."

However, a 911 dispatcher reported to police that a caller said he had witnessed the event.

"The kid said he saw someone get shot. Caller is a juvenile. The shot person is on the sidewalk. Suspect ran toward the back of the building," the dispatcher was quoted as saying in a recording released to the media.

Authorities have identified no specific motive, like robbery. They did say, without elaborating, they were trying to determine "if Locksley may have been targeted in this incident."

Mr. Locksley, then a junior, was the starting quarterback at Centennial in 2008. He threw for 961 yards and seven touchdowns, earning honorable mention status on the all-conference team.

He left Centennial the following year for New Mexico, when his father was named head coach at the University of New Mexico.

The senior Locksley is now the co-offensive coordinator for top-ranked Alabama. A spokesman for the Crimson Tide said Locksley declined to make any comment about the case.

"He's been very quiet and private about it," said Josh Maxson, the university's football spokesman.

But Locksley and his wife, Kia, issued a detailed description of their son's life and abilities in an online memorial.

They described Meiko as "a mild-mannered, exceptionally bright and talented young man" who also was a gifted actor and musician.

"In addition to commercial assignments and movie parts," he performed "at the Shakespeare Theatre in the Greek tragedy 'Oedipus,'" they said.

Regarding his musical abilities, the Locksleys said their son "learned to play piano at an early age."

"When he was six or seven years old, he spontaneously began to play Christmas carols on a store piano at Costco. Needless to say, the customers were entranced along with his mom," they said.

Football, however, had a powerful hold on him. His parents called the game "his first love."

After graduating from Albuquerque's La Cueva High School in 2009, Mr. Locksley played for a series of schools, including Youngstown State, Iowa Western Community College, the University of New Mexico and Lackawanna College.

He was a walk-on defensive back at New Mexico while his father was the head coach there. After Mike Locksley was fired four games into the 2011 season, Meiko chose to remain on the team.

"(Quitting is) not something I was raised to do. That's one thing my father instilled in me as a young kid — never quit," he told the Albuquerque Journal.

The Journal reported that "the following year, Locksley played defensive back at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa.," stating that it "appears his college athletic career ended there."

After leaving New Mexico, Mike Locksley joined the staff at the University of Maryland, becoming acting head coach after the dismissal of head coach Randy Edsall in October 2015.

Mike Locksley joined the Alabama staff for the following season and was promoted to his current position as co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach for the 2017 season.

The Locksleys said their son chose to remain in Maryland after Mike took the Alabama job. News reports from Maryland indicated that Meiko was working for a Subway sandwich shop at the time of his death.

The Locksley have four children. In addition to Meiko, they have two other sons, Kai and Mike Jr., and a daughter, Kori.

Kai Locksley, a quarterback at Iowa Western Community College, recently turned 21, prompting his 47-year-old father to tweet: "Happy Birthday man it's so amazing to me that you are 21...legally a man. We are so proud of you, keep pushing. Meik is celebrating with you!!"

Jim Dey, a member of The News-Gazette staff, can be reached by email at jdey@news-gazette.com or by phone at 217-351-5369.