While President Donald Trump addresses the country with his third State of the Union speech on Tuesday, as per custom, he and First Lady Melania Trump will have a series of honored guests sitting in the audiences.
One of the specially invited attendees receiving the spotlight during Trump’s SOTU speech, Jody Jones, whose brother Rocky Paul Jones was tragically shot and killed by Gustavo Garcia in Tulare County, California, on December 17, 2018. Rocky was 51 years old.
As stated on the White House press release, “The criminal alien who committed this brutal murder had previously been arrested for violent crimes and had twice been deported. The criminal alien was arrested in December 2018 for the sixth time, but because of California’s sanctuary state policy, he was released from jail… A few days later, he went on a 24-hour ‘reign of terror,’ injuring several people, robbing a gas station, leading law enforcement on a high-speed chase” during which Rocky was killed.
Here’s what you need to know about Jody Jones:
1. Jody Jones’ Brother Rocky Jones Was Shot At An AM/PM Parking Lot
Jones told CBS 47 that his brother was shot and killed one month after his 51st birthday. Rocky was in the parking lot of a local AM/PM around 2:30 a.m. on a Monday morning, when Gustavo Garcia opened fire. Tulare County Sheriff’s Office said this incident happened less than 24 hours after Garcia shot a farmworker and robbed thousands of dollars from a gas station clerk in Exeter, California.
Jones told reporters, “You don’t think it’s gonna happen to you or your family. But gosh, when it does happen, you hope there are laws there that hold people accountable. But there’s just not here now.”
After Tulare County Sheriff’s Office spotted Garcia’s gray Honda SUV, a car chase ensued. Police reported that Garcia shot at officer’s vehicles numerous times before taking off on foot and stealing a GMC truck from three farmworkers at gunpoint. Driving 100 mph, Garcia attempted to flee police but smashed into multiple cars on Highway 65 which caused him to be ejected from his seat. Garcia died on the scene at approximately 7 a.m. Monday morning.
2. Gustavo Garcia’s Criminal Record Dates Back to 2002
The 36-year-old illegal immigrant has a pretty lengthy rap sheet. Investigators believe he was responsible for two other shootings that took place in Larry County on the same night he reportedly shot Rocky. With three immigration holds, first in 2004, and then again in 2014, Garcia was arrested and ordered to be deported for a third time just days before his violent rampage.
Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux reported that a few days prior to Garcia shooting Rocky Jones, he was arrested after testing positive for a controlled substance but was released after 10 hours because he was only held on a misdemeanor charge. Garcia previously spent 27 months in federal prison for illegally reentering the country prior to his second deportation.
“Before SB 54, Gustavo Garcia would have been turned over to ICE officials,” Boudreaux said. “That’s how we’ve always done it, day in and day out. After SB 54, we no longer have the power to do that.” However, given that Tulare County thrives through agriculture, and made Boudreaux made sure to say that he strongly supports law-abiding locals who lack American citizenship and undocumented migrant farmworkers.
Trump is expected to speak out against California Senate Bill 54, which effectively made California a “sanctuary state” in 2017, legalizing and standardizing statewide non-cooperation policies between California law enforcement agencies and federal immigration authorities. A UC Berkley voters’ poll in 2018 revealed 54 percent of California voters support the law, while 41 percent are opposed.
3. Jody Jones Has Three Other Brothers, Elliot, Casanova & Roman
Jones, who studied at the College of the Sequoias, a two-year community school in Visalia, comes from a large family. He described Rocky, who was the oldest of five brothers, as “just a teddy bear and a great person in general.”
A GoFundMe account was set up for Rocky by Jones’ daughter, Kenedi Baxter-Jones, which raised $3,865 of the fundraiser’s $10K goal. The campaign states, “Rocky Jones was a very giving, loving, and unselfish man. He was a dad, son, grandpa, uncle, cousin, and friend to many. Sadly, his life got cut short on December 17th, 2018. With a heavy heart, I ask for your help to raise enough money to help relieve the financial burdens left on Rocky’s family. Anything helps, thank you so much. God bless.”
4. Jones’ Daughter Kenedi Baxter-Jones Is An Exeter High School Graduate
Jones shares an incredinly close relationship with his daughter, Kenedi, who played basketball at Exeter High School before graduating in 2018. When Rocky died, she shared a photo of her father and uncles on Facebook with the caption, “One year ago heaven gained the most beautiful angel. I love you uncle rocky, we miss you everyday.”
Like her father, Kenedi is a die-hard Los Angeles Dodgers fans, and together they regularly attend home games. She also mantains a close relationship with her mother, Kathy Baxter. On Kathy’s birthday, Kenedi captioned a photo of them on Facebook, “Happy Birthday, Mom. I’m going to keep it short and sweet because there’s honestly too many things I could say. Thank you for bringing me into this world, and sticking by my side the whole time I’ve been in it. You’re the best there is. I love you so much, today we celebrate YOU.”
5. In Addition To Jody Jones, Trump Invited 9 Other Special Guests To Attend His SOTU Address
While Trump will honor Jody’s brother, and likely transition the tribute into speaking about immigration laws in America, the President will also take time to honor Stephanie, a single mother and her daughter Janiyah Davis from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as well as Kelli Hake and son Gage Hake, who lost their father and husband Army Staff Sergeant Christopher Hake in 2008 while serving his country in Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Other special guests include veteran Paul Morrow from Montgomery, Alabama, Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz from Del Rio, Texas, who served the U.S. Army before joining the Border Patrol in 1991, Army veteran Tony Rankins, and Ivan Simonovis, who escaped from a Venezuelan prison in 2019. Trump will also honor Robin Schneider, whose daughter Ellie Schneider was born at just 21 weeks old.