'All this gun violence needs to stop': Mother of shooting victim speaks out

Christopher Dornblaser and Lindsey O'Laughlin
The York Dispatch

As friends remembered Dezmen "Dez" Jones as someone who always wanted to help, his mother called for an end to the violence that took her son's life.

Kecia Hill, Dezmen's mother, said her son was a sweet, respectful 15-year-old who was all about his bikes, his friends and his family.

"He was just a good kid all the way around," Hill said. "He had a whole lot of life left ahead of him, and that was taken away."

The 15-year-old Dezmen, a freshman at William Penn Senior High School, was one of two people shot to death Wednesday night in the 600 block of West Princess Street.

York City Police have released few details about the incident, and attempts to reach Lt. Bill Wentz, who supervises the detective bureau, for additional information were unsuccessful. 

Hill said Dezmen wanted to be a master mechanic when he grew up, and he planned to enroll in the York County School of Technology to pursue that dream. He was also getting ready to apply for his learner's permit so he could begin driving.

"All this gun violence just needs to stop," Hill said. "It’s destroying our futures and our children’s futures."

Brandt Kingsley remembers Dezmen as someone who always wanted to help, one who acted instead of just talking about it.

"You can't replace that type of genuineness," Kingsley said Friday, Sept. 28.

Kingsley said Dezmen happened to be in the area when he got caught in the shooting. He said it was a "wrong place, wrong time" situation.

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Kindness: Kingsley, a York City resident and founder of Pedal 4 Peace, an organization that strives to bring people together through cycling, said Dezmen was one of the original members of the organization when it formed in August 2017.

Dezmen, who loved bikes, would teach younger kids tricks.

“That’s all Dez did, he lived for his bike,” Kingsley said.

Raymond Byrd, of York City, knew Dezmen through biking as well. He said Dezmen was like a son to him.

“It’s never a dull moment with Dez," he said.

Kingsley said Dezmen would try to help people when he saw them feeling down. Sometimes he would ride with them, and most of the time they would feel better, according to Kingsley.

“The type of individual Dez was, you maybe get to meet one or two people like that in life," he said.

Byrd agreed, saying, "You can't be sad around ... Dez."

He called Dezmen an "amazing" person. 

"His mom, she raised a phenomenal child — phenomenal," Byrd said.

Dezmen Jones, 15, sits on his bike. Dezmen was killed during a shooting on Wednesday, Sept. 26. Photo courtesy of Brandt Kingsley.

Dezmen's father, Anthony Jones, who lives in Baltimore, said his son loved kids, especially his nephews and younger siblings.

"He was real quiet, real laid back," Jones said, "especially when he was a baby."

Bikes: Kingsley said Dezmen would sometimes fix people's bikes at warehouses the organization has. 

“He was one of the most talented kids in the area," he said, adding that younger kids often looked up to him.

“If you couldn’t do something, he would show you how to do it," Byrd said.

Dezmen Jones, 15, rides his bike.  Dezmen was killed during a shooting on Wednesday, Sept. 26. Photo courtesy of Brandt Kingsley.

Kingsley recalled a time when the organization went to Baltimore for a bike party, and at one point Dezmen was doing tricks but crashed into someone else.

Not deterred, Dezmen, a little bloody from the crash, got up and continued biking.

“He was so excited to be down there with all these other kids doing tricks," Kingsley said.

Kingsley said Dezmen rode his bike every day, even in the snow. 

Before Pedal 4 Peace's inception more than a year ago, Dezmen was involved with a different bike group, Flock Club, which helped teach kids bike tricks. Byrd said he knew Dezmen through that club, which Kingsley said merged with the Pedal 4 Peace organization.

“Dez lived for bikes, man, he did; he lived to ride his bike every day," Kingsley said. 

Byrd said Dezmen was a "superstar" who grew a lot in the years he was part of the group. 

He said the teen's signature move was when he would do a wheelie, drop one hand and have one foot over the handlebar — all without touching the ground.

"Out of all the senior riders in my group, he's one of the best riders," he said, adding that Dezmen never scratched the surface of his potential.

Death: Police have said Dezmen was shot in the 600 block of West Princess Street about 8:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Also killed during the shooting was 28-year-old Jameel Robert Murray. He died at the scene.

Dezmen was taken to York Hospital by ambulance, where he succumbed to his injuries. He was pronounced dead about 9 p.m., according to the York County Coroner's Office.

Byrd, who said he lost a family member to street violence in Baltimore, said he was trying to hold up following Dezmen's death.

“He’s definitely going to be missed," he said.

Anyone with information about Wednesday's shooting is asked to call York City Police at 717-846-1234 or text tips by sending "Yorktips" followed by the information to 847-411 or using the York City Police app. Texting is the best method of conveying information about this incident, and it is anonymous, police said.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.