AWOL on felony case for over a year, man’s accused of murdering one, shooting two others

Justin Jones | CPD

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx this week “blamed ‘sensational reporting’ about people committing crimes while free on bail” for the increased use of electronic monitoring by judges, the Tribune reported Wednesday.

Since no other news outlet reports as thoroughly and frequently about people committing violent crimes while on bond for felonies, we’ll assume she was talking about us.

It’s notable we only started keeping track of people who killed, tried to kill, or shot other people while on bond after Cook County’s chief judge had the cojones to publicly state, “we haven’t had any horrible incidents occur using [his new bail] system.”

Evans made that statement in October 2019. Without much effort, we reported on 14 cases that year in which people were charged with murder, attempted murder, or shooting someone under his new bail system.

So far this year, we’ve reported on 25 “not horrible” cases that involve 35 victims.

We reported on 40 defendants who were similarly charged in 2020. There were 45 people victimized in those “not horrible” incidents. Today, we introduce you to defendant number 41. His name is Justin Jones.

Since going missing on a felony case in 2019, Jones killed one man, shot and robbed two others, carjacked a motorist, and got arrested with a gun while driving yet another hijacked vehicle, according to prosecutors.

The story, as Kim Foxx might say, is sensational.

It all began on Christmas Eve 2019 when Jones, pretending to be a juvenile named Ernedz Gross, stole $1,286 worth of merchandise from the TJ Maxx store at Clark and Diversey in Lincoln Park, according to prosecutors.

Judge Susana Ortiz released him on his own recognizance. And Jones never showed up in court again, records show. A judge issued a warrant for his arrest on January 2, 2020. But he was never picked up.

Instead, prosecutors say, he went on a months-long violent crime spree that wouldn’t end until one man was dead and two others were maimed.

Last August, an 18-year-old man met with a friend to buy a gun on the 2200 block of East 70th Street. The friend showed up to the meeting with Jones, prosecutors say. The victim allegedly recognized Jones because they went to the same high school — Jones was even the class valedictorian, according to his defense attorney.

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Shortly after the rendezvous began, Jones allegedly pulled out a gun — but not to sell it. Instead, he pointed it at the victim and demanded his wallet, prosecutors say. When the victim refused to hand it over, Jones shot him in the leg, shattering his thigh bone, according to prosecutors. Then, he allegedly took the man’s wallet and left.

The victim underwent surgery and identified Jones in a photo line-up the next month, but police didn’t catch him right away. Also that month, Jones teamed up with 24-year-old Jasper Price to pull off the same gun sale robbery ruse again, prosecutors said.

Jones and Price offered guns for sale on Facebook and met with two 18-year-old men who wanted to buy them. The meeting allegedly took place in the vestibule of the building where Jones lives.

Both Jones and Price displayed guns, then told the men they weren’t selling the guns anymore. At that moment, another man walked up and said, “don’t move.” Shots rang out. One of the 18-year-olds died on the building’s steps. The other, also shot, managed to run away and survived.

The alleged crime spree continued this year.

On January 27, Jones and Price allegedly robbed and carjacked a driver at gunpoint in the 7400 block of South Luella.

Four days later, police spotted yet another carjacked vehicle in traffic on the 7800 block of South Marquette. They tried to pull it over. The driver, Jones, sped away, crashed, and then ran, prosecutors said. Cops caught him. He was allegedly carrying a gun and the keys to the crashed car.

The next day, prosecutors charged him with aggravated vehicular hijacking and aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. On March 22, he was charged with shooting his former classmate during the first robbery. Last week, prosecutors charged him with murder, discharging a firearm during a robbery, and murder while committing a forcible felony for the September incident.

Price is also charged in the hijacking and murder cases.

Both men are being held on multiple no-bail orders.

Our previous “sensational reporting”

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com