May, 2006, Jacksonville, Florida, 1:30 a.m.
“JORRICK!” The shotgun wielding thug moved to the rear passenger door, forced it open and slid into the back seat of the Landry family SUV. Sitting on the back seat was Zachias, seven years old, and now being forced over to the other side of the seat by a shotgun toting madman. “Kids? Let me see some mother%$& kids,” yelled 18-year-old Jabray Davias Jones from inside the vehicle.
Sitting up front in the passenger seat was Jorrick Landry, and alongside him in the driver’s seat was his wife Vernalise, cradling their two-year old daughter, Anaiyah. In the far back seat of the SUV sat their ten-year old son, Drevon. Jorrick watched the terrifying events unfolding before him, and with seconds to act to save his family, he reached frantically for the console while Vernalise assisted him, unsnapping the gun from its holster to allow Jorrick to remove it and put it into action.
Jorrick turned violently around as the criminal entered the vehicle, and over his right shoulder he unleashed a volley of gunfire. The incredibly brave Vernalise dropped Anaiyah to the floorboard at her feet, and was able to swing around over her right shoulder and force the shotgun to the floor a split second before Jabray responded with two shotgun blasts. Thankfully, no one was wounded. POW, POW, POW, the gunfire continued until Jorrick had emptied his gun.
On the phone with emergency operators, Jorrick stood watch over Jones until help arrived.
Jabray Davias Jones had fallen out of the partially open rear passenger door, and lay mortally wounded on the parking lot pavement of Jacksonville’s McGirts Park. Jorrick took control of the would-be kidnapper’s shotgun, and then asked the dying Jabray Jones, “Why did you do this to my family?” Jones answered, “Because I needed the money.”
On the phone with emergency operators, Jorrick stood watch over Jones until help arrived. As EMTs approached the dying criminal, Jorrick Landry peered into the rear side window of the SUV and saw his ten-year old son in the rear seat, slumped forward. Drevon had been wounded during the incredible violence that erupted inside the vehicle by a ricocheting round from his father’s weapon as Jorrick was saving the lives of his family. Drevon passed away one week later.
Those of you who read the story, “Because I Needed the Money” on the pages of this magazine (July 2007) remember the harrowing details of that tragic night. The story generated emails and condolences to the family from all over the nation. It hurt me to listen to it as I interviewed Mr. Landry much less have to put it on paper. As a father myself, it was a very difficult story for me to write.
June, 2009 — The Aftermath
Over the past two years I have spoken to Jorrick Landry, and received some emails from him thanking people for their support. I decided to call him, and ask how he and his family were coping after the extreme violence perpetrated against them, and the loss of their beloved son. What follows is a synopsis of how this terrible tragedy has affected the lives of these good people and the difficulties they now face together as a family.
My conversation with Mr. Landry began as any conversation would with my asking him how he is doing. “I’m okay,” he responded. “It never gets any easier.” One week after the horrible events of May 6th 2006, Jorrick and his family were faced with the death of Drevon. Dre, as he calls him.
The Landrys returned to their home town of Norfolk, Virginia to bury their son before returning to Jacksonville in an attempt to move on with their lives. Vernalise couldn’t continue to live in the same home, so the family relocated shortly after returning from Dre’s funeral.
A 13-year active duty member of the United States Navy, Jorrick and his family received immediate support from his command. “The Navy has been good to us,” he said. Returning home, Jorrick was given some time off from his duties, and two weeks later began counseling that continues to this day. Both Jorrick and Vernalise feel the Navy has done a good job in light of the circumstances. In an attempt to find some answers to why this horrifying event happened to begin with, Jorrick sought them from the attacker’s family.
Jorrick reminded her that her son had placed the muzzle of a loaded shotgun to the face of his two-year old daughter.
Given the phone numbers of Jones’ mother and father by the homicide detectives, Jorrick placed a call to each of them in an attempt to piece together the events of that night. His conversation with Jabray’s father, although uncomfortable, ended with both men wishing themselves a happy life.
His call to the mother wasn’t so simple. Divorced from Jabray’s father, his mother reacted to Jorrick with anger and discontent. She asked him why he was out so late with his kids, as if he had somehow invited the actions wrought upon them by her shotgun wielding son. Jorrick reminded her that her son had placed the muzzle of a loaded shotgun to the face of his two-year old daughter. Jorrick was upset at her for blaming him and his wife for the actions of her son, and wisely ended the call.
Anaiyah, who was two years old at the time of the incident is now five, and according to Jorrick, “She remembers everything, every detail of what happened. She’ll ask me from time to time where Dre is, and whether we’ll ever see him again. We tell her he’s in Heaven, and that we’ll see him again.” She attends counseling sessions with the family.
Zachias, seven years old at the time Jones burst into the back seat of the vehicle, shoving him to the side, has had a very tough time. He is now the same age as his brother was at the time of his death, and he has had some difficulty coping with that. “We didn’t celebrate his birthday,” Jorrick told me. “To be expected, Zachias has had some trouble in school, and acted out some, but is now doing okay under the circumstances.”
The family has turned to their faith. Jorrick continues, “Spiritually I just tried to find something to stand on in regards to what happened. I just believe that God created each of us. God created all of us. God created Drevon and nothing catches God by surprise and so I just trust that God’s will prevails, and that Dre is in God’s hands and you know, he was given to us for a certain period of time, and I thank God for the time that we had. It saddens me that we’re not still together but I try to learn from the time that we shared, and I don’t question God in regards to Dre’s being returned to him. That’s kind of what keeps me going; just the fact that nothing catches God by surprise.”
Jorrick has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome by the Navy doctors; he has trouble sleeping, and has been given medication to treat his sleep disorders. “My wife knows not to wake me up. She says when I do sleep, sometimes I shake,” he said. But while the Landrys are able to do things together as a family, they can never put the incident behind them. “There are times when my wife absolutely has to go see Dre, and it doesn’t matter what bills have to be paid, it doesn’t matter what’s on our plate. We just have to get our stuff together and go to Virginia and go see Dre.
After getting to know Jorrick somewhat over the past couple of years, I can tell you that I am not sure I would have the strength of this man and his family.
It’s just that peace, and it does something for her. Zachias didn’t cry at the gravesite initially, and now as he gets older, he cries at Dre’s gravesite.” On Dre’s birthday the family does something special: “Release balloons or something in honor of him or something special just to celebrate his life. There’s a void. Something’s missing. I wonder, when I see other kids, what Dre would be doing,” Jorrick said.
Jorrick has sought and received assistance from a local support group for other families who have lost children to homicide, and has found tremendous solace with that organization. The Landry family has been through more than most of us will ever have to go through as we wind our way down this highway of life.
After getting to know Jorrick somewhat over the past couple of years, I can tell you that I am not sure I would have the strength of this man and his family. I hope I never have to find out. But through counseling, and with the help of family, friends, and support groups, the Landry family has pulled together to push on. May God bless this incredible family as they do their best to move on in the face of a tragedy that will never leave them.
[ Mark Walters is an NRA Certified Instructor in three disciplines, a member of NSSF and a vocal Second Amendment activist. Mark is the host of the USCCA sponsored Armed American Radio program every Sunday evening at 8pm Eastern on 920 WGKA in Atlanta. Listen to the show by visiting www.920wgka.com and clicking on the “listen live” button every Sunday evening. Please visit Mark at www.armedamericanradio.org and www.theamericangunfighter.com. Contact him directly firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com ]