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Boot camp for teen best friend who shot, killed rising football star over video game, judge says

The mother of a rising football star who was killed by his teen friend over a video game said she wanted something positive to come out of the tragedy.
The mother of a rising football star who was killed by his teen friend over a video game said she wanted something positive to come out of the tragedy.

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – The childhood best friend of a Miami Gardens rising football star who was shot and killed over a video game in May of 2019 learned his fate Tuesday in court.

Jatwan Phillips was 16-years-old when investigators said he fatally shot Joshua Ancrum, 17, at a home in Miami Gardens.

Emotions ran high in the courtroom Tuesday with both families present. They told the judge that the shooting was a “terrible accident” and that the boys were best friends. Ancrum’s father visibly broke down inside the courtroom Tuesday.

Phillips was arrested the day of the shooting and the state prosecuted him as an adult.

On Tuesday, a judge sentenced Phillips, now 18, to 364 days in the Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation Department Boot Camp Program, which disciplines inmates in a “paramilitary setting,” according to the department. A judge can mandate convicted offenders between the ages of 14 and 24 to participate in the program as part of their sentence. Boot campers receive guidance such as GED preparation, skills training and job placement, among other life skills.

Following his time in the Boot Camp program, Phillips will then serve 10 years of probation and perform community service talking to high school students about gun safety.

Ancrum’s mother, Lisa Alvarez, said that the decision to keep Phillips out of jail was partially hers.

“I wanted something positive to come out of the whole situation because if I don’t get nothing positive out of it then I don’t think that my son’s legacy would be really what he wanted,” she said. “It’s no longer about me and I think he’d want something positive to come out of this and like being his friend, which it was his friend, it just is really a bad situation, bad decision.”

Alvarez could be seen in the courtroom whispering something to Phillips. This is what she said to him: “I told him to keep his head up and just keep moving. That’s all.”

Ancrum, who played for the South Florida Express 7v7 squad had received a scholarship to Florida International University, according to FIU head football coach Butch Davis.


About the Authors:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.