Jason Merritt/Getty Images(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — NBA player Matt Barnes is using his celebrity status to launch a social media manhunt.
The Los Angeles Clippers small forward is pleading with his hundreds of thousands of Twitter and Instagram followers to keep an eye out for Michael Williams, the prime suspect in the murder of Barnes’ aunt Tanganyika Hoover, 48.
Hoover was estranged from Williams, but the two were staying at a friend’s house on the morning of July 8, when the friend said he found Hoover outside, her neck slashed, struggling for life. Williams was nowhere to be found.
Police consider Williams extremely dangerous.
Following his aunt’s death, Barnes felt compelled to act. So he posted images of Williams, along with a plea: “This dude stabbed my auntie in the neck last week & left her for dead on the sidewalk, she ended up dying on the way to the hospital in the ambulance.”
The post quickly spread from Barnes’ friends to his fans, to strangers he’s never met.
“Having the platform that I have, I wanted to speak out on social media,” Barnes said.
“When it’s your family, you just feel like you…you can do more. You want to do more,” he said.
Hoover struggled to talk in her final moments, Barnes said. She was trying to say ‘M.’
“She was trying to say who did it and what happened,” Barnes said. “And she, you know, literally, with her throat being cut…lost her voice.”
Williams is the only suspect, Sacramento Police Chief Sam Somers said.
“I have some frustrated officers here because they thought they would be able to get this guy right away,” Somers said. “But we’re going to get him.”
Somers said the attention Barnes has given to the case has been helpful.
“He’s a local kid. He has a following here in Sacramento. And having his name attached with us and helping in this investigation will help us actually solve this matter,” Somers said.
Police have set up a tip line, hoping someone can track down Williams. The tip line number is 800-222-7463.
As for Barnes, the offseason has been busy. He’s preparing to host the Matt Barnes Basketball Camp from Aug. 4-8. His 12th NBA season is approaching, too. Beyond the court, he promises to keep fighting for justice for his beloved aunt.
“In her unfortunate passing, I’m hoping to be her voice and, y’know, her eyes and ears and really try to help in any way possible,” he said.
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