(SAVANNAH) The man who says he tried to mentor the teenager charged with murder following deadly 4th of July violence in downtown Savannah is speaking out. 17 year old Jerry Chambers criminal history has made headlines in the wake of the shooting that lead to a deadly police chase. Malik Jones says he’s known Chambers for more than five years and spoke to him in late June. “I briefly told Jerry, I say Jerry you just beat the odds. I was actually at his graduation. He just graduated high school.” Jones said, adding he tried to encourage chambers to stay on the right side of the law during that conversation. “I say, uh, stay out of trouble. I told him briefly, my story. I say man, I was there where you are at one point in time. I was trying to be somebody I wasn’t, me going back and forth through the juvenile, seeing that this is not the life that I want.” said Jones.
Chambers home life did not promote a life of crime according to Jones, who says he knows Chambers mother did everything she could to set her son up for success, but sometimes parental hopes can’t compete with peer pressures. “It’s not the way you raise a child, you can raise a child in your home to do the right thing, but they’ll go out in the street and portray something totally different. I was definitely that kid.” said Jones. The 20 year old says he spent several years in and out of the juvenile justice system, but as an adult, a charge of marijuana possession and a positive male role model motivated him to change. In March, Jones started a one man operation to make a difference. He calls it The Cycle Breaking Generation. He offers mentoring and motivational speaking about his life experiences that led him to change and his target audience are young males who need to hear about alternatives to gang life. Jones says his message to them is simple, “You don’t have to be a hot boy or a gangster or a thug to be cool. You can’t take the streets. There’s only two places that thugs and gangsters go: That’s dead or jail.” said Jones.
While Chambers seemed receptive, Jones says the teenager’s but his actions reveal the advice did not take hold, but he still has a message for him and others like him in Savannah. “I really hope Jerry see this interview or he get the message, that Jerry, you got to change. Other people like Jerry, hangin’ around with the wrong crowd, leave them alone.” Jones said. He adds that while he’s disappointed in the choices chambers seems to have made about the company he was keeping, he doesn’t feel a sense of failure in his mentoring attempt because he’s learned that not everyone who is given advice, actually follows it. Jones says while his not-too-distant past on the wrong side of the law gives him credibility among the young men he’s trying to reach. But while he thought he might make a difference with Chambers, he says his disappointment is tempered by the fact that not everyone who is given advice, actually takes it. “My reward comes when people come up to me after I speak and say not everyone was listening, but some of us were listening. Those are the people who let me know I can make a difference. Jones