Because I Needed the Money

Dear Readers,

Several months ago, Maria Harris, the Managing Editor of Concealed Carry Magazine, asked me to contact a fellow US CCA member who sent her an e-mail regarding a recent shooting in Jacksonville, Florida. Following her request, I called the sender of that correspondence, Mr. Erick Williams. Erick is a former law enforcement officer who was once shot in the line of duty and is now a highly respected CCW instructor in the Jacksonville area.

Mr. Williams informed me during our conversation that he had been contacted by a prospective student who, along with his wife, was interested in Erick’s Florida CCW instruction course after seeing one of Erick’s advertisements. Mr. Jorrick Landry and his wife, Vernalise, made arrangements that day to take the upcoming class from Erick on the following Saturday.

Subsequent to my conversation with Erick, he and I both placed a call to Mr. Landry. What Jorrick Landry proceeded to tell me is one of the most devastating and frightening accounts of criminal terror that I have ever heard, the end result of which is absolutely incomprehensible. During my interviews with Mr. Landry, my heart sank to the pit of my stomach with each passing word. Listening to this brave young man describe what happened to his family brought tears to my eyes, and his words made me question my own inner strength. I am truly humbled to be the one to bring this story to you.

It is my sincerest hope that none of us have to endure the type of tragedy that you are about to read, but if we ever find ourselves face to face with evil, may we be emboldened with the courage of the Landry family. My heartfelt thanks go out to Mr. and Mrs. Landry and their children for allowing me to pass along this difficult story of utter terror, awful fear, impossible strength, and one family’s courage to overcome the unimaginable. Following is the factual account of the Landry’s fight for survival against a vicious criminal attack on one late and horribly fateful Florida night.

— Mark A. Walters, The Ordinary Guy

Jorrick Landry and his family can tell you first-hand how difficult the life of a US Navy sailor can be. It involves long hours working when the ship is in port and long strenuous weeks away from home while on sea duty…weeks that turn to months in the blink of an eye. Jorrick’s plight is one that I have heard before. Wives keep busy through support groups and the tedious days alone, running the household and taking care of the family in the father’s absence. This can put a tremendous stress on even the strongest of relationships.

Jorrick told me during the beginning of our discussion that the crime rate in his area was becoming a greater concern for him while he was at sea. Through much discussion with his wife, they agreed that the family would keep a firearm for self-defense during his absences, one of which was rapidly approaching in the coming days. They also agreed that they would attend a CCW class together so he could feel comfortable knowing that his wife had a means of defending the family while he was on deployment. After seeing one of Erick Williams’ CCW instruction course advertisements, the Landrys signed up for class.

 

During the incredible violence and with unparalleled bravery, Vernalise gained control of the shotgun and jumped out of the truck with Anaiyah. Zaccheaus jumped from the rear passenger door on the driver’s side and joined his mother and young sister who were now safely outside of the vehicle. Drevon remained in the far rear of the SUV.

 

Jorrick and Vernalise attended Erick’s CCW class on Saturday afternoon, April 30th, 2006, during which time they were taught the Florida statutes and basic firearm safety. Erick took them to the range, and both Jorrick and Vernalise passed the class together. Jorrick was not aware that it was legal in Florida to keep a loaded gun concealed in a vehicle without a Florida CCW until Erick informed him of that fact during their instruction. After passing the class together and sending in their CCW paperwork, the Landrys now kept the revolver in the console of the family SUV for their protection while waiting for their Florida licenses to arrive.

With the firearm instruction now out of the way and feeling somewhat safer, Jorrick and Vernalise now turned their attention to the family activities during his upcoming deployment. They saw an advertisement for a “day camp” for children at McGirts Park in Jacksonville and decided to sign up the children. This activity would certainly give Vernalise some much needed downtime while taking care of the family in Jorrick’s absence.

Vernalise called the recreation center and was told that the applications were on a first-come, first-served basis and that the camp filled up quickly, so it was in their best interest to line up early on the day of sign-ups. The woman on the other end of the phone told them that it was not unusual for parents to begin lining up in their vehicles just after midnight on the night before to assure themselves one of the limited spots.

Early Saturday Morning

At approximately midnight on May 6th, 2006, Vernalise set out for the park while Jorrick remained home with the 3 children. Shortly after her arrival and realizing that she was the only one at the park, Vernalise called Jorrick to inform him of the fact that she was not comfortable waiting alone. Not wanting to miss the camp sign-ups, and concerned with his wife’s well being and safety, Jorrick asked her to come home to pick up him and the children so they could make a fun night of it together as a family. The children were awoken and loaded into the SUV, and the family set out for the park to assure their spots for the kids’ camp.

It was 1:30 a.m. when they arrived back at the park together. Vernalise was in the driver’s seat, Jorrick was in the front passenger seat, 7-year-old Zaccheaus was in the middle of the back seat, and 2-year-old Anaiyah hopped up into her mother’s lap in front. Sitting alone in the far back of the SUV was 10-year-old Drevon who was keeping himself busy with his video game.

The Face of Evil

Jorrick and Vernalise were discussing the fact that they were still the only folks waiting for the camp sign-up when the face of evil appeared. While Vernalise was talking to her husband, she yelled to Jorrick in shock at what she saw through the passenger side window, just inches behind her husband. A young man in dark clothing had approached the passenger side window and pumped his shotgun, sending a live round into the chamber before screaming at Jorrick inside the vehicle to give him “everything that he had.”

With a loaded shotgun now pointed directly at his face, Jorrick offered the man his wallet. Desperate and fearing for the lives of her children, Vernalise offered the crazed punk everything, including their SUV. “Shut up bitch!,” was the response that came back from outside the vehicle. Vernalise begged the man to leave them alone, telling him that they had children in the car, and then, according to Jorrick, “His eyes lit up like he hit the lottery.”

The man screamed back into the SUV through the slightly opened passenger window, “Kids? Let me see some motherfucking kids.” Eighteen-year-old Jabray Davias Jones then entered the Landry family’s SUV, forcing his way into the rear passenger side door and pushing Zacheaus across the back seat.

Time to Act

With a shotgun wielding maniac now inside his SUV, Jorrick had to react to save the lives of his family. He later told me how he thanked God that Erick Williams had set him straight on Florida law, which allowed him to have a loaded gun in his vehicle for protection, even without a CCW license.

Looking behind and over his right shoulder in utter disbelief at the incredible and frightening events unfolding in front of him, Jorrick reached for the console and the handgun inside it, all the while trying not to let the maniac threatening his family see what he was doing. Watching her husband fumbling for the weapon in a fight for the lives of her children, Vernalise discreetly assisted Jorrick.

 

KABOOM ! Jabray squeezed the trigger on the shotgun. The explosion ripped into the floorboards of the SUV. KABOOM! A second shot; the roaring blasts going unnoticed by Jorrick, who continued firing, emptying his handgun into the seriously wounded criminal who invaded and threatened the lives of his family.

 

Opening the console and breaking the thumb latch, Vernalise quickly and quietly handed the gun to Jorrick while dropping 2-year-old Anaiyah on the floor, at her feet, between the seat and the pedals. Jorrick, now armed with a handgun, swung around to his right, placing the gun between his seat and the door, and began firing at Jabray Davias Jones. Vernalise in a desperate and incredibly heroic attempt to save her family, reached for and grabbed the shotgun muzzle behind her and to the right, forcing it towards the floorboard in the back seat.

KABOOM ! Jabray squeezed the trigger on the shotgun. The explosion ripped into the floorboards of the SUV. KABOOM! A second shot; the roaring blasts going unnoticed by Jorrick, who continued firing, emptying his handgun into the seriously wounded criminal who invaded and threatened the lives of his family.

Out of ammunition and during what seemed like an eternity, Jorrick watched as a wounded Jabray Jones tumbled outside of the SUV through the same door that he forced his way into just seconds earlier. He struck the pavement with a thud. Jorrick had succeeded in striking Jones multiple times in the groin area, leg, stomach and eye, with the shot to the eye lodging in his head, directly behind the ear.

The shot to the leg penetrated through and traveled up Jones’ arm, shattering and destroying his bicep muscle. During the incredible violence and with unparalleled bravery, Vernalise gained control of the shotgun and jumped out of the truck with Anaiyah. Zaccheaus jumped from the rear passenger door on the driver’s side and joined his mother and young sister who were now safely outside of the vehicle. Drevon remained in the far rear of the SUV.

Taking Control

Jabray Davias Jones lay on the pavement gravely wounded and bleeding profusely. Vernalise, in control of the shotgun, threw it to Jorrick, who was now standing over the criminal bleeding out on the ground, at his feet. Jorrick dropped the empty revolver, racked another round into the chamber of the shotgun and held the wounded Jones on the ground with what seconds earlier had been the robber’s weapon.

Jabray Jones, with his own loaded shotgun pointed directly at him, began frantically fumbling inside his pants, near his back for what Jorrick thought might be another weapon. “Stop reaching behind you!” Jorrick screamed at the man, “Stop it, now!” Jorrick squeezed the trigger and opened up with one deafening blast, tearing into the kidnapper’s lower back, near his waist, striking him near the kidney area at almost point-blank range.

Unbelievably, the young man was still alive when he uttered the words, “Please Mister, no more.” Jorrick told me that he knew then that it was over when he saw Jones’ body relax on the pavement. “I saw him give up,” said Jorrick. As he held the shotgun over the mortally wounded man on the ground, he asked, “Why? Why did you do this to my family?” “Because I needed the money,” was the sickening reply from the dying man laying on the ground at Jorrick’s feet.

Realizing that he was in desperate need of medical attention and that his attempt to rob, kidnap and murder the Landry family had failed, Jabray Davias Jones asked Jorrick to reach into his pocket to retrieve his cell phone and call for help. Holding the shotgun over

Jones, Jorrick retrieved the wounded man’s phone while continuing to hold him at gunpoint. Not able to get service on Jones’ phone, Jorrick yelled for Vernalise who was standing away from the vehicle with two of the children. She tossed her phone to Jorrick through the open car doors. Jorrick was able to call for assistance with the weapon trained on Jones.

Roll Call!

Confident and in total control of the situation, Jorrick Landry immediately yelled for a roll call of his family, one by one, when he realized that everyone answered except for Drevon. Alone in the back seat and sitting directly behind the incredible violence that unfolded seconds earlier inside the vehicle, Drevon was silent. While hearing emergency vehicles responding to the scene and still pointing a shotgun at the wounded gunman, Jorrick looked inside the rear of the SUV to see his oldest boy slumped forward and bleeding against the rear of the seat in front of him.

The Crime Scene

A total of 10 to 12 minutes elapsed between the time that Jones began his terror against the family and the time that he lay bleeding, as police arrived. Using a Maglite to alert the approaching vehicles to his location while still on the phone with emergency operators, Jorrick Landry did as instructed when the officers arrived. He lay on the ground, face down while the officers gained immediate control of the crime scene. When responding medical personnel first arrived, they rushed to the aid of the fallen gunman while Jorrick frantically alerted them to his wounded son in the rear of the vehicle.

Drevon was rushed to Shands Jacksonville hospital in critical condition, wounded by a stray round that police later determined was the result of a ricochet from his father’s own gun during his heroic efforts to save his family. Homicide detectives removed Jorrick from the scene and took him to the police station where he was intensely interrogated about the events of the evening. Vernalise was questioned on the scene and sent to the hospital to be with her son. Detectives were cognizant of the fact that Jorrick had moments earlier killed a violent criminal who was robbing his family.

Jorrick, who was now distraught over his critically wounded son, was allowed to get regular updates from the hospital about Drevon’s condition during the investigation. According to Jorrick, it was approximately 45 minutes later when he was informed that no charges would be filed against him and that detectives were considering his defensive use of force a justifiable homicide. He was quickly reunited with his family at Drevon’s bedside.

Only hours after the incident and with his son in critical condition in the intensive care unit, Jorrick and Vernalise notified Erick Williams of what occurred. Rushing to the hospital, Erick arrived to find Vernalise still with blood covered jeans. Jorrick approached Erick and collapsed into his arms, giving him what was described as a “bear hug” and thanking him repeatedly for informing him that they could legally keep the gun in the car. Jorrick broke down in tears in Erick’s arms.

The Criminal’s Intent

Although no one will ever know the true intentions of Jabray Davias Jones that night, clues left behind by the dead robber make it clear that he was not inclined to leave any witnesses. Jones was carrying what Jorrick described as some sort of knapsack with him during the commission of his crimes against the family.

Police later told Jorrick the next day that inside the knapsack was found some lighter fluid, tape, and dozens of shotgun shells. It was later found that the shotgun was stolen, and although no hard proof existed, detectives told Jorrick that the pattern used was similar to other known crimes. We can only speculate. EMS personnel on the scene described shotgun shells as “falling out” of the gunman’s shirt as they cut it away at the crime scene. It was obvious that Jabray Davias Jones meant business.

The Robber

18-year-old Jabray Davias Jones expired on the scene as a result of Vernalise and Jorrick Landry’s heroism and bravery in the face of pure evil. He was later determined to be a student at Savannah State University and had no prior criminal record. Jorrick was told by police that the violent nature of the crime, the weapon and the techniques used by Jones during the attempted kidnapping and robbery of his family suggest that Jones was no rookie to this type of behavior.

It is probable that he had done this before and was never caught. Similarities to other unsolved crimes were apparent to police. One thing is certain; he will never again have the opportunity to harm anyone else. Predictably, those who knew him described him as a “good boy.”

Drevon

Jorrick said that during the violence in the vehicle, Jones threw up his arm in an attempt to block the incoming fire and he remembers Jones’ hand striking his own hand or arm as he was firing. It was this action that they believe sent the stray shot into Drevon, striking him in the head at his left temple. Though there were encouraging signs during the next week, Drevon passed away approximately one week after that horrifying, night having never awoken.

The Family

Through these horrific events and through the loss of their beloved son, the Landry family has survived together by their strength and faith. The events of May 6th, 2006 have changed their lives forever and forged a deep bond with Mr. Erick Williams. Having been through defensive shootings and their aftermath, Erick has been a source of strength for Jorrick and his family, comforting them since that fateful night.

I asked Jorrick how he was coping with what occurred. He told me that he is confident that his son knows that the outcome of the events of that night quite literally saved the rest of his family. The United States Navy gave Jorrick some time off and he is now back on active duty.

 

[ Mark is the director of Gun Safety Education and a NRA Certified Instructor in three disciplines. He is the owner of 45 Caliber Transfer, LLC and 45 Caliber Transportation, Inc as well as a Second Amendment activist in his home town. Mark is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA ) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF ). He encourages readers to contact him at: theordinaryguy@comcast.net ]