Circumstances surrounding the Sunday-morning shooting death of 31-year-old local drummer Corey Jones by a Palm Beach Gardens Police officer remain unclear as friends and family come together to express their sadness, confusion, frustration, and anger.
Jones, a well-known South Florida musician who played at various local venues and churches, was on his way home from a gig in Jupiter early Sunday morning when car troubles left him stranded near the exit ramp for PGA Boulevard off of I-95. After Jones called AT&T Roadside Assistance around 2:30 a.m., a plainclothes, on-duty Palm Beach Gardens Police officer now identified as Nouman Raja was "confronted by an armed subject" when he "stopped to investigate what he believed to be an abandoned vehicle," according to a police statement released today. Raja was driving an unmarked police vehicle.
Here is the official media release from the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department, posted around 2:30 p.m. today:
PALM BEACH GARDENS POLICE OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING INTERSTATE 95 AND PGA BLVD.
Palm Beach Gardens, FL –On Sunday, October 18th, 2015, at approximately 3:15am, a Palm Beach Gardens Police Officer, Nouman Raja, on duty in a plain clothes capacity, in an unmarked police vehicle, stopped to investigate what he believed to be an abandoned vehicle on the southbound exit ramp of Interstate 95 and PGA Blvd. As the officer exited his vehicle, he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject. As a result of the confrontation, the officer discharged his firearm resulting in the death of the subject, Corey Jones. Per Department policy the officer is currently on paid administrative leave and an independent investigation is being conducted by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office.
No additional information at this time.
Although little more is known about what happened between 2:30 and 3:15 a.m. Sunday, friends and family are rallying behind the musician, whom they describe as "gentle," "humble," and "professional."
"He was my fellow drummer friend. I've known him for years," says Brandon
Another local musician and close personal friend of Jones', Shaka Pace, has been trying to raise awareness of Jones' death via the hashtag #Justice4Corey.
"I've had people from New York, California, and all over calling me asking me what's going on. But they're actually Florida musicians working abroad. He was well-known by everybody," says Pace. "Anybody you talk to, besides me, they'll tell you the same thing. He just was a real gentle person. I've never even heard him raise his voice or argue. It was always good vibes. Something's just not adding up for me, you know?"
The last gig Jones and Pace played together was a couple of months ago at a Stop the Violence campaign in Riviera Beach.
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The police killed a friend of mine this morning. Before they tell you he was a thug, he played drums in church every single Sunday.— Benjamin Dixon (@TheBpDShow) October 19, 2015
"It makes me really angry, but obviously there's due process that needs to take place," says another fellow musician, Miami-based bass player Brian Tate. "The police report and police video will come out at some point."
According to the Palm Beach Post, family members will gather this evening at Bible Church of God in Boynton Beach to speak about Jones. The victim's grandfather, Bishop Sylvester Banks, and other family members work at the church where several loved ones of Jones plan to gather and share memories of the local drummer.
"What puzzles me is they haven't said anything about what really happened. They're trying to fabricate something to make him look like some kind of bad person, which he's not," says Ciggs, who said Jones had just been promoted at his day job at a local housing authority. "Everybody is wondering, where is he located? Where is his body, where is he? There's a lot of questions that need to be answered and should be answered."