Dozens of candles and a bunch of balloons, some emblazoned with the words “You’re so special,” line the curb in the parking lot of a South Richmond shopping center off Jahnke Road.
The pavement in front of the makeshift altar is colored with sidewalk chalk covering the spot where Jacob S. Jones lay dying early Sunday morning after he had been shot.
Christopher Woody happened to be leaving 63Thirty5, a club and restaurant at the other end of the shopping center, around 2 a.m. when off-duty police officers said they heard gunshots nearby. Woody, a mental health technician at a nearby hospital, tried to keep Jones alive by giving him CPR, but he had been shot in the head, according to the medical examiner.
Woody didn’t know it was a friend with whom he’d grown up in the same church until he and another man took over chest compressions for a woman who was tiring.
“It was really disturbing,” Woody said when he recognized Jones. “I never thought in 1,000 years that I would be doing that to someone I knew.”
He told Jones: “Jacob, this Chris. You can’t die on me right here.”
Jones, 34, did not respond, but Woody said they brought him back three times.
“That fourth time, we just couldn’t get him back,” Woody said at a vigil Thursday night. “He just lost too much blood.”
Woody signed his name in chalk where Jones’ head had lain. Other colorful signatures and messages covered the bloodstains.
A huge crowd, many from the church — Crusade for Christ Christian Church Ministries, where Jones and Woody had grown up — gathered to light candles, release balloons and share memories of Jones, a father of two boys, 5 and 10 years old.
“Jacob was a great dad,” said his cousin Gregory Butler, who spoke on behalf of the family. “He had two boys that he loved and cared about. He spent a lot of time with his boys.”
He worked in construction and worked his way up to a management role and would often reach out offering work to those who needed it.
“He’d give people a chance,” Butler said.
Butler said that no matter what he did on Saturday night, Jones would be back at church on Sunday morning, where he was every Sunday, playing the drums for worship.
“He was worthy,” Butler said to the crowd. “He was much more than one night.”
His death shocked the family, who along with friends — including his godmother, former city Councilwoman Michelle Mosby — described Jones as creative, funny and reliable.
“He was always on his way,” Mosby said. “You’d call him and he’d be there.”
At the vigil, Mosby gave an impassioned speech about voting in local elections, not just national ones, for supporters of gun control.
“My boy is gone. Our boy is gone,” she said. “You are the difference that can be made. Jacob deserves for us to go to the polls and make a change.”
Police are investigating the homicide that occurred in the 6300 block of Jahnke Road. Family members said police have a suspect, but police have not released any details.
Butler said Jacob’s mother, Geraldine Jones, has forgiven the person who took her son’s life.
“That rings out to me, because I don’t know that I do,” he said. “I don’t know if I can, or if I will get to that point.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.