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Former NBA star Shawn Kemp is released from jail after arrest in a drive-by shooting

Former Seattle SuperSonics forward Shawn Kemp (center) was booked into jail Wednesday, on a felony charge stemming from a shooting. He's seen here last year, at a WNBA game between the Seattle Storm and the Chicago Sky.
Ted S. Warren
Former Seattle SuperSonics forward Shawn Kemp (center) was booked into jail Wednesday, on a felony charge stemming from a shooting. He's seen here last year, at a WNBA game between the Seattle Storm and the Chicago Sky.

Updated March 9, 2023 at 6:27 PM ET

Former Seattle SuperSonics star Shawn Kemp has been released from jail after his involvement in a Wednesday shooting in Tacoma, Wash., according to police records. No one was reportedly hurt in the incident.

Adam Faber, a spokesperson for the Pierce County, Wash., Prosecutor's Office, told NPR in an emailed statement on Thursday that charges weren't immediately being filed against Kemp, and that he was being released from jail pending further investigation.

Faber said the case remains an ongoing police investigation.

The formal charge against Kemp, 53, accuses him of a drive-by shooting. But people close to Kemp tell local news outlets that the case is one of self-defense after Kemp allegedly confronted someone after tracking a stolen iPhone.

An altercation broke out in a parking lot that escalated into shots being fired, the Tacoma Police Department said. "One car fled," it stated, and one man was arrested at the scene, adding that its investigation is ongoing.

The police department didn't name Kemp in its announcement, referring instead to his age, gender, and a drive-by shooting charge. Online records show Shawn Travis Kemp was booked into the Pierce County Jail shortly after the police report, on a felony charge of a drive-by shooting. He was later released at around 1 p.m. local time.

Police say the altercation took place at a parking lot in the 4500 block of South Steele Street — an address that corresponds to the Tacoma Mall shopping center.

Citing people who are close to Kemp, local TV station FOX 13 reports that its sources say the former NBA player "had property stolen from his car on Tuesday, tracked his iPhone to Tacoma on Wednesday and when he approached the vehicle, a suspect shot at him. He fired back in self-defense."

Under Washington state law, the crime of drive-by shooting applies to anyone who fires a gun either directly from a vehicle or from "the immediate area of a motor vehicle that was used to transport the shooter or the firearm, or both, to the scene of the discharge," creating "a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury."

Kemp, famously known as "the Reign Man," was a six-time NBA All-Star during his career, with most of those appearances coming during his stint with the Seattle SuperSonics. The franchise moved to Oklahoma City roughly a decade after Seattle traded Kemp to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Kemp has remained active in Seattle, attending sporting events and launching business ventures. He recently opened his second cannabis store in the city.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
Jonathan Franklin
Jonathan Franklin is a digital reporter on the News desk covering general assignment and breaking national news.

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