Exclusive: Kawhi Leonard's stepmother breaks silence over unsolved murder of NBA star's father

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Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Murder of Kawhi Leonard's father remains a mystery
After 11 years there is still pain for Jacquelyne Leonard, who saw her husband get shot and killed in front of her.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- After 11 years there is still pain for Jacquelyne Leonard, who saw her husband get shot and killed in front of her.

The victim was 43-year-old Mark Leonard. He was shot and killed in front of his car wash in Compton.

He was the father of NBA star Kawhi Leonard.

Leonard's murder in 2008 remains unsolved, and deputies are still searching for the gunman.

Kawhi Leonard was a teen at the time of the shooting.

Jacquelyne Leonard remembers she had just found out she was pregnant with Zion, Kawhi's half-brother, when an incident occurred at the car wash.

"You could see the conversation escalated to loud voices, getting closer to one another and that scared me," Jacquelyne Leonard said.

The car wash is no longer there, and is now another business.

Jacquelyne says the incident started when a friend came by hoping Mark would help mediate a dispute. She says she didn't know who the other people were. There was a loud discussion, everyone left, and then she noticed something unusual.

"This truck where these other people were in kept driving back and forth by the car wash," she said. "Now my nerves are really getting bad because I'm thinking 'Why do they keep driving by here?'"

Hours later, at closing time, someone walked through the gate and came up toward them.

"He had on a grey sweatshirt and this hood over his head and all these dark clothes, but you couldn't see him, and he had something across his face. You could only see eyes," she said.

The suspect then started shooting.

The suspect then stands over Mark Leonard and keeps shooting. He then runs off.

"I ran outside and laid on Mark's back and was telling him, 'Hey, you've got to make it,'" Jacquelyne said. "'What about me? What about the baby, the kids?'"

Three months later, a vehicle drives into the car wash going the wrong way.

"The windows came down and a young man in the back sat up with an AK-47 and my friend says, 'Run. He's got a gun' and I remember thinking not again," Jacquelyne said.

Jacquelyne was three months pregnant, and as she ran, she was shot in the legs.

"When the shooting happened I looked at the young man, and I looked him in the eye because I remember him saying 'She's pregnant' and the gentleman in front of him said 'That's her,'" she said. "And when he said that, I thought to myself this is specifically for me."

Investigators believe the two shootings are related. She says it was very difficult for her stepson Kawhi Leonard.

"I knew from having Kawhi around me, I knew he was the kind of child that was going to be quiet and draw in to his emotions," she said. "He was always a quiet child, but he seemed more withdrawn to me, and focused on his basketball. I think that was his therapy. I think that for him, that's how he got through it."

She says it took her a long time to get the courage to talk about all of it.

"I decided to come forward because after 11 years I want justice for my husband and for the kids," she said.

Jacquelyne admits since she was targeted, she was worried to come forward.

"You have to address it, you have to deal with it. If Mark was here, Mark would not let anything like that happen to one of us and not get justice for us," she said.

Sheriff's investigators say any new information could help in this case. It might generate a lead that could solve the murder. Anyone with information can contact the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department at 323-890-5500.