When Terry Jones’ 76-year-old mother died last month, he lost his best friend and drinking partner.
That, plus depression and alcoholism, set his world spinning, friends said.
“He was really down, like something was tearing his insides out,” said Bob Fazio, a friend and neighbor of the out-of-work carpenter. “When things get like that, they just explode.”
Jones did erupt Tuesday in a shooting spree that forced the evacuation of nearby homes and businesses.
On Wednesday, he was charged with felony aggravated assault. Jones faces up to five years in prison if convicted.
The standoff began as the 41-yearold shot and killed his own dog. Then he fired several more shots while barricaded in his camper.
When he surrendered eight hours later, no one was hurt. One bullet had whisked past a police officer and pierced a window, showering him with glass.
“I knew it was bound to happen,” said Robert Church, manager of the Bambi RV Park where Jones lived. “He needed help awful bad.”
Jones surrendered at about 12:15 a.m. Wednesday after Kootenai County’s Special Response Unit pumped 11 rounds of a irritant gas into his camper.
Police found Jones’ dog, a small black mixedbreed, lying dead next to the camper door, along with a rifle and ammunition for another gun.
For more than a year, Terry Jones and his mother, Mary Jones, had lived in a camper on the back of his 1966 Dodge pickup at 3113 Government Way.
Kootenai Medical Center officials say Mary Jones died March 28. They would not release other information about her death.
“He used to talk about how he loved his mom and he was going to look out after her as long as she lived,” Church said.
David Cheyney, who works nearby at The Tire Doctor, said he had become good friends with Jones in recent months.
“We hung out a lot, he treated me like a son,” Cheyney said. “He was a decent guy.”
But Cheyney said Jones had mood swings, and other neighbors said they often saw him beating his dog.
“It was so scared of him it would run down the road,” Church said.
Jones appeared to have a serious alcohol problem, said Church and employees who work across the street.
“He just drank so much you didn’t know what was going to happen,” Church said. “He used to brag about how much he and his mother could drink. She was his drinking partner.”
Terry Jones told Fazio that his mother had not been feeling well and had been suffering from a pain in her head before she died.
“He put his head on my shoulder and started to cry,” Fazio said. “He missed his mother, he said she was his buddy.”
A few days after Mary Jones died, her son started screaming in the middle of the night, Church said.
“I asked him what in the world he was doing and he said ‘I just had to vent. I had so much on my mind and that was the only way I could get rid of it,”’ Church said. “If you ask me, the reason he was shooting was he was just venting.”
Jones had intended to move to Arizona and start a new life, Fazio said. But, Jones told Church earlier in the day he was too drunk to drive.
That afternoon Church heard gun shots at about 4:40 p.m.
Officers from the Coeur d’Alene Police depart ment, Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department and Idaho State Police blocked off about a quarter of a mile of Government Way, evacuating people from surrounding homes and businesses.
Jones told officers that he fired his first three shots at his dog, killing it, Police Capt. Carl Bergh said. Jones did not tell police why he shot his dog.
Jones continued to fire shots, mostly through the back door, until about 7 p.m. Bergh said officers tried throughout the evening to get Jones to come out of his camper. At 10:10 p.m. they began putting rounds of gas in his trailer.
Because Jones had water inside the camper, he was able to resist the effects of the gas until 12:15 when he finally came out the door, Bergh said.
Jones is being held in the Kootenai County Jail on $250,000 bail. Bergh said he been arrested on prior weapons and drug offenses.
“I haven’t seen as yet enough evidence that he intended to kill anybody,” said Kootenai County Deputy Prosecutor Rick Baughman, explaining why he filed an assault charge instead of an attempted murder charge.
“He wasn’t a bad guy, I think he just needs help,” Fazio said.