Jamill Jones, a Wake Forest basketball coach, was arrested in Queens on Thursday in connection with the death of a Boca Raton man last weekend. Jones is accused of punching Sandor Szabo so hard in the face that he killed the man, after Szabo was knocking on car windows looking for his cab.
According to the New York Post, Jones surrendered at the 114th Precinct station house in Astoria on Thursday morning along with his lawyer and was awaiting arraignment at Queen Criminal Court. Jones faces a misdemeanor assault charge, according to New York Daily News. That charge may change once the medical examiner determines cause of death.
Here’s what you need to know about Jones:
1. After Allegedly Punching Szabo in the Face, Jones is Accused of Fleeing the Scene in a White SUV
Szabo had left his step-sister’s wedding early Sunday morning and was knocking on the windows of nearby cars to look for a cab he had called. He knocked on the window of a white SUV in Long Island City and Jones allegedly got out of the vehicle, approached Szabo, and punched him in the face, knocking him to the pavement.
Jones then got back in his white SUV and drove off, leaving Szabo to bleed on the sidewalk until a 17-year-old witness and another bystander found him and propped him up against another vehicle, according to PEOPLE.
“Me and the man, we picked him up and leaned him against a car so he would stop choking on his blood until the ambulance came,” the teen said.
Szabo was taken to the hospital in critical condition and died from his injuries on Tuesday, according to police. The medical examiner hasn’t revealed whether Jones’ punch led to Szabo’s death, as of Thursday, according to the New York Post. Law enforcement sources said the charges against Jones could be upgraded depending on the findings.
2. Jones Has a Long History of Collegiate Coaching & Coached for Several Colleges, Including UCF, VCU & Florida Gulf Coast
The 35-year-old assistant coach was hired by Wake Forest in 2017, according to his bio on the Wake Forest site. He was in his second season of coaching for the team. He was previously an assistant coach at University of Coastal Florida, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Florida Gulf Coast.
“Before joining the Wake Forest program, Jones coached squads that each won at least 22 games and made a postseason appearance,” his Wake Forest bio reads. “Those teams won a pair of league regular season titles, made one appearance in the NCAA Tournament, two appearances in the NIT and one appearance in the CIT.”
While coaching at UCF, Jones helped develop Tacko Fall, who was named the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year and was a finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award, given to the “nation’s top center,” according to his bio.
Jones began coaching at Florida Gult Coast as an assistant coach on Joe Dooley’s staff, his bio reports. A Philadelphia native, Jones graduated from Arkansas Tech in 2008 and began his collegiate career at North Platte Community College in Nebraska.
3. Jones Used to Work for the Department of Homeland Security and Claims that His Experiences Aren’t Scars, They Are “Lessons”
According to the Winston-Salem Journal, Jones also worked as a contractor for the Department of Homeland Security.
“I’m that guy who is going to coach you,” Jones told the Winston-Salem Journal. “I’m going to coach you hard. But I’m going to love you too, on the flip side of that. Because I know that’s what a lot of these kids need.”
He continued: “My experiences are scars to me. They are lessons. And that’s the way they should be. We can’t control our upbringing. We can’t control the experiences we are forced into, in a lot of ways.”
4. Jones Returned to Wake Forest for an Announcement by the Athletic Directors Before Turning Himself In
Wake Forest hasn’t released an official statement as of Thursday night.
“We have just been made aware of this matter and we are gathering information,” a Wake Forest Athletic spokesman said. “We will make a further statement after we learn more about the matter.”
Twitter user Les Johns posted that he had just seen Jones two days ago during an announcement with Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman and Chris Paul at Old Town Club on August 7. Jones had apparently returned for the announcement before turning himself in to police on Thursday.
“Have spotted Wake Forest Basketball coaches Danny Manning, Randolph Childress, Steve Woodberry and Jamill Jones here for the announcement. Also just spotted was notable Wake alum Mit Shah.
5. Szabo Loved to Cook & Fish & is Remembered as “Really Good Person” Who Had a “Beautiful Spirit & Bright Smile”
Szabo’s employer, What If Media Group, mourned his death on Facebook on Wednesday. “It is with a very heavy heart that we announce that after a senseless assault over the weekend in NYC, our dear friend and colleague, Sandor Szabo, has passed away. It is a devastating loss to his family, and to our What If Media Group family,” the post reads.
“Sandor was super outgoing, friendly, and an incredibly smart businessman. He was always upbeat, positive, kind and caring,” the company continued. “He was fun to be with, interesting, and always interested. He was a really good person. He was critical in helping our company’s recent rapid growth, and was very proud that we were selected as one of the fastest growing companies on the Inc 5000.”
Szabo was a “well-known and well-respected leader in the digital marketing industry.” He lived in Boca Raton with his brother, but spent a lot of time in What If Media Group’s Fort Lee, NJ office, according to the group.
His Facebook profile shows Szabo enjoyed Rick and Morty, scuba diving and the musician Virag Voksan – Dj Flower. His profile states that he used to live in Honolulu, Hawaii, and knows both the English and Hungarian languages.