In show of strength, murder victim's son proceeds with Naval Academy induction

Jessica Willey Image
Thursday, July 1, 2021
Son of Houston mom killed proceeds with Naval Academy induction
The woman was killed in a shooting at her Maryland hotel after she dropped him off. In a show of strength, he took the oath and said she was with him in spirit.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The son of a Houston-area mother, who was killed in a shooting at her Maryland hotel after she dropped him off at the Naval Academy, decided to carry on with his induction despite the tragedy.

Leonard "Trey" Cummings III took the oath of office at the Naval Academy Wednesday evening less than 48 hours after his mother, Michelle Cummings, was shot and killed.

According to police, Cummings was an innocent bystander in the shooting that police believe happened on a street behind the hotel where the family was staying. She was shot twice on the patio on Tuesday around 12:21 a.m. in Annapolis.

On Monday, Cummings and her husband, Trey's father, dropped him off at school, where he plans to play football. Trey was a football standout at Westfield High School in Spring ISD. His mom founded the football booster club at the school.

"She was a great person. I don't even know if the word 'great' can explain it," Danica Outing, Cummings' close friend, told ABC13. "If there's a word better than 'great' that would be her."

ABC13's Joe Gleason on Westfield football mom killed: 'My heart sunk'

The woman killed in a drive-by shooting in Maryland was a proud Westfield High School football mom. Her son played on the team and was recently inducted into the Naval Academy. ABC13 sports producer Joe Gleason, who covers high school sports all the time, remembers the devoted mom vividly, and said many hearts are broken.

In a joint press conference Wednesday afternoon, Annapolis police and the FBI announced that they are offering a reward of more than $20,000 for information leading to the killer's arrest. Investigators said the shots "travelled a distance" when they hit Cummings.

Michelle Cummings was in Annapolis to drop off her son when she was killed. He's a Westfield football player who had just gotten a scholarship to the Naval Academy.

Annapolis Police Chief Edward Jackson said that he spoke to Trey, telling him that the best way he could honor his mother's legacy is to go forward with his education at the Naval Academy.

"I believe that she is watching down over him and what my focus is now is to bring closure to the Cummings family," Jackson said. "I told him I was proud of him and he's doing something that the entire family is proud of, so don't let some misguided gunman take that away from him."

Michelle Pittman with the Motherhood of The Brotherhood group said Cummings was excited to join them. Pittman also confirmed that before their sons are officially sworn in during Wednesday's ceremonies, the parents meet to give their children a special goodbye. Cummings was robbed of that cherished moment.

"She had such a giving heart and the message I have to share today is this didn't have to happen. This was such a senseless act," Pittman said. "I'm glad that Michelle was able to get her son to this point. He is such a fine young man. He is very resilient and strong and we are here to support the family."

Lt. Col. Todd McCarthy, Officer in Charge of Plebe Summer, said Trey decided to continue on with the ceremonies.

"He made the choice to in-process today. He didn't have to," McCarthy said. "He has made the choice to stay here and join us for Plebe Summer, so we're taking care of him in every way we can. The entire team, the entire Naval Academy family surrounded him and we're doing everything we can for him."

According to preliminary information from the police chief, two people were sitting in a vehicle adjacent to where Cummings was shot.

Jackson added that detectives have recovered video.

When asked, he did not disclose if officials knew the suspects they were looking for, saying that was part of the evidence.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe account has been created to help the Cummings family.

The incident remains under investigation. Police in Annapolis are urging residents to come forward with any information.

"I can't even begin to explain what was taken away from us," Outing said. "He will push forward and he'll be great because she raised him."

For updates on this story, follow ABC13 reporter Jessica Willey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.