Young man's homicide still unsolved nine years later

Colorado Springs Cold Case: Jamil Salaam

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- On July 17, 2007, 22-year-old Jamil Salaam was shot to death in a Colorado Springs parking lot. The reason for the shooting? Still unknown, as well as who pulled the trigger.

It was in the early morning hours at the Pine Creek Village Apartments, near Airport Road and Academy Boulevard, when Jamil was shot and killed after some kind of fight in the parking lot.

Since that night, not a day has gone by that his family hasn't thought about Jamil, but they're doing their best to carry on, relying on their faith to get them through the tough times.

According to his family, it was hot that night, and Jamil and a female friend stepped outside his apartment to cool off, when they were approached by three men. Jamil told them they didn't have any money, which led to a fight.

"There was a brief confrontation and shots were fired," said Detective Mike Montez with the Colorado Springs Police Department.

Jamil was hit multiple times and died moments later as his attackers ran off into the darkness.

"When the officers arrived on scene they found the victim, Jamil Salaam, deceased," said Montez.

Dawud Salaam's phone rang shortly after.

"It was 4:40 in the morning. His friend called, crying, sobbing," said Dawud, Jamil's father. "By the time I got to the phone he had been disconnected, so I think I called him back and he told me that Jamil was dead."

Just a few hours before, Jamil had been at his father's house, eating dinner and doing schoolwork.

"We exchanged greetings, he kissed me on my forehead and he left. And a little over five hours later, I got that call," said Dawud.

The call had woken up the rest of the family, and Dawud had to break the news. In their shock, they did the only thing they could think of: pray.

"I just told my wife and my daughter, I said 'let's pray.' So we prayed and I got dressed and I drove over," said Dawud. "By the time I got there, there was a crowd of people, police was all around and Jamil, he was still there. They hadn't covered him or anything."

"And of course, they said it was a crime scene so they wouldn't even allow me to go see him," he said.

A witness told police the three suspects were African-American and Hispanic, with bandanas on the lower part of their faces.

But with little else to go on, police haven't been able to track them down.

"We're quite confident that somebody out there knows what's going on," said Montez. "Be it the person who did it and they may have told somebody else, but you gotta remember there's witnesses there. It was kind of busy that night, people were in and out of the apartment complex, so people did see things."

Neither police nor Jamil's family really know what the fight was about, but Dawud said Jamil wasn't the fighting type.

"Even in his last moments, from what we was told, he stepped in front of another person, and basically like shielded that person. So that makes me so proud of him," said Dawud. "He probably was afraid, I don't know, but he was able to overcome that and was not just concerned about himself, so that makes me proud."

Dawud said Jamil's death has been tough on the entire family, but they believe they'll see him again.

"For him to be taken away like that, it's very difficult, but we are patient, we are spiritual people. We believe that this is not the end of everything," said Dawud.

And they choose not to focus on how Jamil died, but rather how Jamil lived.

"That particular thing, his death, is not Jamil," said Dawud. "It's something that happened to Jamil, so I try to keep it separated."

Instead, Dawud said they remember Jamil as a sensitive brother, son and father, who never shied away from his feelings.

"That's the way he was," said Dawud. "Even when he was in high school, I'd go up to the school, Jamil would kiss me on my forehead, and he was this big guy, 6'7", he never shied away from that."

After graduating from Widefield High School, Jamil attended CSU-Pueblo for a year before enrolling at Pikes Peak Community College, where he was a student at the time of his death.

"His freshman year (at CSU Pueblo) he won an academic award for writing," said Dawud.

Dawud said Jamil always talked about being a lawyer.

"He used to love Law and Order, that was one of his favorite shows," he said.

Jamil also loved basketball, reading, and his little girl, who was just six months old when he was killed. She'll be turning 10 in a few months.

"I see so much of him in her," said Dawud. "The facial expressions, physical characteristics, she loves to read."

Finding Jamil's killers won't bring Jamil back, but it would end nine years of questions and nine years of waiting.

"The idea that so many years have gone by, I'm reminded to still be patient," said Dawud. "When it's time, when it's time, everything will be taken care of."

"If you saw something, or if you heard something, and it may not have been that night, maybe it's been a year from now, two years from now when you heard something, call us. Let us know, we'd love to talk to you," said Montez.

Anyone with any information about this case should call CSPD at 719-444-7000. Tips can also be reported anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 719-634-STOP (7867).

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