Jones, 31, was an inspector with the Delray Beach Housing Authority for the past eight years and the drummer in a local band. Norman Raja, who has been with the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department since April, has been placed on administrative leave.
It was around 3:15 a.m., according to an account provided by the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department. An officer, Nouman Raja, stopped to investigate what he thought was an abandoned vehicle on the darkened ramp. The officer was on duty in plain clothes and in an unmarked police vehicle. The statement said that as Officer Raja left his vehicle, “he was suddenly confronted by an armed subject.”
That was Mr. Jones. The statement did not define what Mr. Jones was “armed” with, and it did not give further details. The statement did not say whether Officer Raja had his weapon drawn when he approached the vehicle or whether he identified himself as a police officer. Also not clear is whether the two men exchanged any words.
The statement said that the men had a “confrontation” and that Raja “discharged his firearm resulting in the death” of Jones.
A source with knowledge of the incident told the Palm Beach Post that, as Raja was in plain clothes and driving an unmarked car, “The assumption is that the guy didn’t know he was a cop.” Raja was reportedly working burglary surveillance when the “confrontation” took place.
Jones’ bandmate, Mathew Huntsberger, told the Post he got a call from Jones after their gig on Saturday night that he was having car trouble. Huntsberger met Jones on an exit ramp near I-95, where he’d pulled off. Huntsberger brought him some oil, to no avail. From the Post:
Jones called for AT&T Roadside Assistance, and Huntsberger decided because he couldn’t help he’d head home.
That was about 2:30 a.m., about 45 minutes before the shooting.
What happened in those 45 minutes is not known.
“I guess I was the last one to see him,” Huntsberger said. “He was like a really peaceful guy. There’s no way he had a gun. We’re all musicians and stuff. We’re not violent people.”
In a news conference Tuesday afternoon, however, Palm Beach Gardens Police Chief Stephen Stepp said that a gun was found on the ground outside Jones’ car, and the gun box matching the serial number was found inside the car.
Also on Tuesday, the president of the local police union, John Kazanjian, said that the department was not being transparent enough about the shooting, and that officers were receiving death threats.
The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident.