updated 11/29/2007 AT 6:00 AM ET
•originally published 11/29/2007 AT 8:30 AM ET
Andy Garcia is paying a hero’s tribute to Redskins Pro-Bowl safety Sean Taylor, who died Tuesday after being shot inside his Florida home during an apparent break-in.
The actor’s niece, Jackie Garcia, was with her football star boyfriend Monday night when they heard loud noises. She reportedly hid in the bedroom with their 18-month-old daughter, also named Jackie, while Taylor, 24, went to investigate.
“His heroic action on that tragic night saved their life and is a testament to his humanity and courage,” the Ocean’s Thirteen star said in a statement to the Miami Herald. “His spirit will live forever, in our hearts and through the legacy of his achievements and the family he leaves behind.
Jackie and the football star were high-school sweethearts at South Florida’s Gulliver Preparatory School and attended the University of Miami together.
“Sean was known to many as an extraordinary athlete and unquestionable teammate,” Andy Garcia, 51, added. “To those of us who had the good fortune to count him as a member of our extended family, we will always remember him as a caring and loving individual.”
The Miami-Dade police director said Wednesday that authorities have “no reason to think this was anything other than a burglary or a robbery.” They have no suspects in the shooting.