Berkeley High Grad Mourned in Richmond Funeral

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday May 15, 2007

Canon Christian Jones II came home a week too soon from school in Alabama. The 18-year-old Berkeley High School graduate had planned to spend the summer with his family in Pinole starting May 14. 

He had planned to play with little brother Cameron and volunteer for young kids at his childhood hangout, the Berkeley Boosters. Instead, he was robbed, beaten and shot to death outside his college campus in Tuskegee on the fateful night of April 29. 

“We were walking back from a party at The Marcellete around 10 p.m. when we heard about it,” said Tuskegee University freshman Courtney Boyd during Canon’s funeral at the South Side Church of Christ in Richmond Friday. 

“Someone told us that a light-skinned freshman with braids had got shot at the BP gas station. There were only four people who fit that description, so we started knocking on their doors. When Canon did not answer his cell phone, we started getting scared. One of the boys went down to the BP station to identify the body. He came back in tears and that’s when we knew that Canon had been murdered by these kids driving by in a car.” 

The world stopped for the Jones family when they received news about Canon’s death on an otherwise normal Monday morning. 

“I will never forget what my wife said when she returned the phone call from the Tuskegee police,” said his father, Canon Jones Sr. “‘Listen, Officer Collins, don’t sugarcoat this. Tell me what happened,’ she said, and then broke the news to me that Canon had been shot in the neck. We had worked so hard to make sure that Canon did not just become another statistic. And then this happened.” 

Canon’s death sent ripples of shock through the entire Richmond and Berkeley communities where he had grown up. 

An inter-district transfer to the Berkeley public schools at the age of 10, Canon had attended the Community Arts and Science (CAS) small school at Berkeley High. 

“I am not saying that he was a genius, oh no,” said his father. “He struggled throughout school at every grade but he fought hard to make it through. He grew up fighting for the little guy and all he ever wanted to see was fairness. His job was to help others, to be there for people, to support his friends and family. He went out to do what he had to do.” 

The last the Jones family heard from the D.A.’s office in Tuskegee was that they had a solid case against the two teenagers who had attacked Canon.  

Quentin Motez Davis, 18, of Macon County and Romanita Michelle Cloud, 18, of Tuskegee, Ala., had robbed Canon of his wallet while he was on his way to Calhoum’s grocery store. When Romanita had spoken Quentin’s name by mistake, Quentin shot Canon for fear of being identified. 

“The police granted immunity to the driver of the car because he gave them the names of the other two,” said Jones Sr. “The girl has confessed to the crimes but it’s unlikely that Quentin will confess. I just don’t want to see the two ever get out again.” 

Canon—who was going to school for a degree in business administration—left behind a legacy of social service in Berkeley. His leadership skills became prominent when he was a member of the Youth Director Council and was active with the Y-Scholars who encouraged students to go to college and most importantly with the Police Activity League Berkeley Boosters. 

“He was able to touch many lives,” said Canon’s mother Felicia Jones. “And all he ever wanted was to be accepted.” 

As Felicia struggled to cope with the loss on Friday, 12-year-old Cameron held his mother’s hand every step of the way. 

Hundreds gathered to mourn Canon’s death and celebrate his life that afternoon, the smiles and tears evidence that the bullet that had taken his life had wounded countless others. 

“The greatness of a man’s life is not measured by how long he lives, but by how long he is remembered after he has lived,” said Berkeley High African American studies teacher Robert McKnight, quoting Martin Luther King Jr. 

Phil Halpern, who taught Canon at Berkeley High, described the teenager as a steady positive force in the classroom. 

“Canon was never afraid to speak his mind,” he said. “He was an inspiration and was genuinely concerned about the future of the younger students. I will never forget his warm smile and his firm handshake.” 

As teary-eyed friends and families shared memories with each other on Friday, David W. Manson Jr. of the Berkeley Boosters honored Canon with a proclamation on behalf of state Senator Don Perata. 

Efforts are also being made to establish scholarships in his name.  

“We have around $1,500. But David and I are trying to raise some more money,” said Jones Sr. “The scholarships will be given to anybody who needs money to go to school.”