MACON, Ga. — Friends and family moved in and out of Velita Nelson’s home on Pursley Street just off Hardeman Avenue late Sunday afternoon. While she wasn’t alone, one important person in her life was missing — her 7-year-old son Jalon Griffin, who was shot in the head and killed in a murder-suicide in the early hours of Saturday morning.
“It wasn’t real. It still ain’t real,” Nelson said. “It still won’t be real until I see my baby, until I hold my baby. I still can’t believe it.”
Vonn Gibbons, 19, shot Griffin in the hall of Gibbons’ Arrowwood Drive home about 12:20 a.m. Saturday morning, Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said. Then Gibbons fatally shot himself in the chest. Gibbons’ mother, Cheryl Cole, was babysitting Jalon.
By Sunday, Macon police had conducted several interviews in the case with family members of both Gibbons and Jalon and were still looking for a motive, according to a police news release. Evidence from the crime scene had been taken to the Macon Police Department’s Crime Lab.
The GBI will autopsy the bodies of Jalon and Gibbons Monday in Atlanta, Jones said.
“It’s a tragedy for both families,” Jones said. “We need prayer, and plenty of it.”
Gibbons’ neighbor Darnell Cummings said she arrived home just before the incident happened, after spending Friday evening at her daughter’s house.
She noticed a cream-colored car speeding off, and heard a “boom boom boom,” which she described like faint beating on a door and some commotion. In the meantime, she had been back and forth removing items out of her car.
Shortly after, she said an ambulance and fire trucks arrived, and she later watched officials conduct investigations until about 3 a.m.
“I don’t know what happened,” she said. “I’m still shocked.”
Nelson said she had been visiting Cole that evening. When she got ready to leave, Jalon said he wanted to sleep over, so she let him.
Shortly after leaving, Nelson said she got a call from Cole.
“When she called, I thought it was him to tell me ‘Good night,’’’ she said.
“It was her (Cole) to tell me he was dead.”
Family members said Jalon was a second-grader at nearby Williams Elementary School who asked a lot of questions, enjoyed football, baseball and tae kwon do and was inseparable from his 2-year-old nephew Jordan.
Jalon also left behind 22- and 24-year-old sisters and a 13-year-old brother.
“Everyone who met him loved him. Everybody,” Nelson said. “He never met a stranger.”
Cole and her family declined to be interviewed, but Cummings said that based on what she knew of Gibbons, he was quiet and seemed to keep to himself.
Cummings said her niece and Gibbons were friends and both graduated from Westside High School.
“From what I heard about him, he’s a very nice young man,” she said of Gibbons, who had indicated he aspired to be a doctor.
Cummings also said about three weeks ago, just before Thanksgiving, she saw several boys beating up Gibbons. She then called the police, who then talked to his mother.
When Cummings asked Gibbons if she knew them, Gibbons said he did not. She said she never found out exactly why Gibbons was attacked.
She said she was shocked to find Gibbons being attacked several weeks ago, and she didn’t know why he would have pulled the trigger on himself and Jalon.
“It floored me. It had everyone floored.”