Community gathers to remember teen’s life

CHRIS DORST | Gazette Stonewall Jackson Middle School students and friends of Shawn Jones Jr. hold
CHRIS DORST | Gazette Matthew Austin, left, sings “I Can Only Imagine” as family and friends o

Shawn Jones Sr. said his son always wanted people to be laugh and smile. He could crack jokes and could unite people like no one else.

On Tuesday night, more than 200 friends, relatives and teachers gathered at Stonewall Jackson Middle School to remember Shawn Jones Jr.

“It makes me feel proud that all these people came out for him,” his father said. “It just shows the power he had to bring people together.”

On Sunday, Shawn Jones Jr., 15, was kayaking in a lake at Parchment Valley Baptist Conference Center in Ripley when his canoe filled with water. He was not wearing a life vest, and despite efforts to rescue him, he drowned.

His father said he had a sense of adventure and loved to get outdoors and try new things. He was with a group of friends from Emmanuel Baptist Church in Charleston on a trip to the lake when the accident occurred.

Shawn was a student at Stonewall Jackson Middle School. His friends and teachers lit candles and observed a moment of silence around the school’s flag pole Tuesday night.

Terrence Gray, his friend, held back tears and said Shawn was the best person he knew.

“He was always talking about being a better people for our parents,” Gray said. “He was talking about getting jobs and just being better men.”

His brother, Shamahd Jones, sang a silly song that Shawn made up about peanut butter and jelly. When people started to tear up, he said “come on people, you’re ruining the vibe in here. He would want us to laugh.”

His father said the family is sticking together through this tragedy. Shawn Jones Jr. was originally from New Jersey. His father said he has plans to hold a funeral there to be closer with his son’s mother, Shawnty Chapman. His son is also survived by his step-mother, Yamilet McCrimmon; brothers DeMari Jones, Jayden Jones; sister Shamiyra Jones; and step-sister Leandra Holmes.

“He was a comedian,” Shawn Jones Sr. said. “He hated drama and did whatever came to his mind. He was silly and he was always in a good mood.”

Reach Travis Crum at or 304-348-5163.

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