A Western Michigan University basketball player is accused of killing a 19-year-old student in his apartment Thursday night close to the school’s campus.
Police say Joeviair Kennedy, 20, and another man, who has not been identified, were attempting to rob the victim, Jacob Jones, when Jones was fatally shot, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Kennedy has been arrested on multiple charges, including murder.
Here’s what you need to know about the case to this point, Jones’ life and Western Michigan head men’s basketball coach Steve Hawkins’ comments on the tragedy.
1. Jones was Murdered on December 8 Near the Western Michigan Campus
According to MLive.com it is alleged that Joeviair Kennedy and another man attempted to rob residents of an apartment at the SoHo 700 apartments close to the Western Michigan campus. The two men demanded money, marijuana and phones from the four residents, with one of the victims tackling the one of the robbers. While it isn’t known exactly when Jones was shot and killed during the entire exchange, the Kalamazoo Country Sheriffs Office and WMU Department of Public Safety responded to the original complaint at 10:28 p.m. December 8.
MLive.com’s Brad Devereaux wrote that the robber dropped two phones as a result of being tackled. One of the phones would be used to ultimately find Kennedy, with his phone number being traced back to a complaint filed with the Kalamazoo County Sheriffs Office. Per the report the other cell phone belonged to Jones, who was pronounced dead at the scene. MLive.com interviewed Levi LeBar, who lives in an apartment located on floor below the one in which Jones was killed, and he stated that the two robbers exchanged words while fleeing the scene. That interview can be seen in the video above.
2. Kennedy Faces Three Charges, Including Open Murder
Kennedy was identified as a person of interest the following day (December 9), and he would be arrested that evening. Authorities opened an “open homicide” case against Kennedy prior to his arrest, and since then he’s been charged with open murder, armed robbery and two felony weapons charges. The status of the other suspect, including whether or not he’s been apprehended, was not made public by law enforcement officials.
The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison, and District Court Judge Anne E. Blatchford denied Kennedy bail due to the nature of the charges he faces.
3. Jacob Jones Was 19 Years Old at the Time of His Murder
According to his obituary Jones was born in Dearborn, Michigan on December 26, 1996. Jones and his family moved to Onsted when he was in third grade, and the family remains residents of the town. Per Jones’ obituary he grew up playing a variety of sports, football, basketball, and baseball while also riding dirt bikes. A graduate of Onsted High School in Onsted, Michigan, Jones began college at Olivet College in Olivet, Michigan and was a linebacker on the football team. Jones transferred to Western Michigan prior to the Spring 2016 semester, and per the school he was an exercise science major.
“The University has learned that the victim of last night’s shooting was a WMU student,” Western Michigan president John M. Dunn stated in a release Friday. “The WMU community is stunned by the realization that a promising life has been lost. We extend our condolences to the family and commit to working with law enforcement officials to ensure that the responsible individuals are apprehended and that justice is served.”
4. A GoFundMe Account Was Set Up to Help Jones’ Family with Funeral Costs
Jones’ memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in Onsted, Michigan, and in the aftermath of his death a GoFundMe account was set up to help his family financially. Established by Trish Osborne Peer on December 10 with a goal of $10,000, as it was noted in the story that the family did not have life insurance. Since the establishment of the account more than $17,000 have been raised for the family with 159 people making donations according to the page.
One day after Jones’ murder Mary Arvidson, the mother of one of Jones’ closest friends, discussed the friendship that her son and Jones shared with MLive.com.
“They had a brotherhood,” Arvidson said of the grieving friend group.
“I think probably one of the hardest things for everybody effected by this is, how could any human do this to somebody like him. He was not a cruel person at all,” Arvidson said.
5. Kennedy’s Information Has Been Removed From the WMU Athletic Department Website
The 20-year old Kennedy, a native of Muskegon, Michigan, played in eight games for the Broncos this season. Since his being named a person of interest in the case and his subsequent arrest the athletic department has removed his name and bio from the men’s basketball website. Head coach Steve Hawkins commented on the murder of Jacob Jones following the team’s game against James Madison Saturday afternoon.
“It’s a devastating loss for our university,” Hawkins said according to MLive.com. “It’s a devastating tragedy for everybody involved. Lives were changed forever. We’re very, very respectful of that, and we’re very shook by the whole thing.”