Police: Shooting was a robbery set up

Jenerrio Jones
Staff Writer

A West Point man who still fights for his life almost two months after being shot was "set up" for a robbery attempt, got into a scuffle with one of the intruders, and managed to get off three shots of his own, hitting one of the would-be bandits.

That comes from testimony and other information during a preliminary hearing Tuesday for 27-year-old Jenerrio Jones, who is charged with aggravated assault and intimidating a witness in the Jan. 13 shooting of 28-year-old Travis Strong in the Fifth Street North home where he lived with his 87-year-old grandmother.

Strong was shot four times, including in the back, and although he was released from the hospital for one day, has been readmitted with internal bleeding and is "fighting for his life," West Point Police Det. Eric Johnson said during the Municipal Court hearing.

Judge Bennie Jones revoked Jenerrio Jones' previous $250,000 bond on the aggravated assault charge and denied bond on the new intimidating a witness charge. Both cases were bound over the action of the Clay County Grand Jury in April.

Johnson testified that when he arrived on the scene of the 2 a.m. shooting, he found "blood throughout the house" and shell casings spread around.

Strong already had been taken by ambulance and airlifted to North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo.

Strong's grandmother was able to tell officers that four people tried to rob Strong, including one who was not wearing a hood and three others, all wearing hoods, who came in after that person. The person without the hood was in the house with Strong when the other three came in as part of what police think was a set up. The person without the hood is identified as 21-year-old Joshua Ewing, who was picked up later that morning and questioned by detectives. He was charged the same day.

Johnson said Ewing told investigators what happened and who was involved.

"Mr. Jones was pretty much the one who came in and wanted to rob him. He is the one who shot Travis Strong," the detective testified.

Police believe Jones and Strong got into a struggle while another suspect, 24-year-old William Earl Gaines III, of Fayette, Mississippi, held a gun on the grandmother.

Strong managed to break away and began scrambling for a gun when Jones shot him. As they tried to flee the house, Strong apparently got to his gun and returned fire from the floor, striking Gaines three times in the leg.

They all fled to a car police think was driven by 27-year-old Amber Robbins, of Columbus. She was charged as an accessory for driving the group to West Point from Columbus. Robbins, who remains in jail on $250,000 bond, has denied bringing the group to West Point but admits to driving Gaines to the hospital afterwards, according to investigators.

In addition to Jones, Ewing, Gaines and Robbins, police have charged 30-year-old Tymotheans Henry, of Columbus with aggravated assault. Henry and Ewing are free on bond.
All are from or have ties to Columbus except Gaines, who was in the area visiting a woman when the incident happened.

Under cross-examination by Jones' attorney, Nicole Clinkscales of Columbus, Johnson acknowledged police have not found any weapons during two searches of Jones' residences in the Memphis area or Columbus or in his cars. The other suspects told investigators Jones took the weapons the morning of the shooting.

Police still are awaiting crime lab results on shell casings at the scene, fingerprints and blood from the back seat of the car driven by Robbins, who is close friends with Jones.

On the intimidation case, Jones is accused of threatening Henry when they ran into each other at a Columbus barber shop. The threats included motions as if he had a gun in his waist band and following Henry to his cousin's home on Tuscaloosa Street to the point where Henry had to drive across a lawn to flee. Jones allegedly got out of the car and threatened to "get him."

Jones has denied any involvement in the shooting or threatening Henry, claiming Henry came to Jones' residence at one point. But witnesses have told police Jones was at the barber shop where the words were exchanged and was with Jones following Henry to his cousin's residence.

Henry and Jones were friends before the shooting incident.

Jones has no violent prior record but did complete a term on pre-trial diversion for possession of stolen property in Lowndes County Cicuit Court, although he almost was revoked at one point for violations.