When Jeron Grayson, 18, returned home from Hampton University over the weekend to visit family and friends, he told his father Rev. Glenn Grayson he wanted to take their church’s community center global. Later that weekend, on Oct. 17, he was killed at a post-homecoming party in an apartment near California University.
|STRONG ATHLETE—Jeron Grayson was selected to the New Pittsburgh Courier All City Football Team. (Photo by J.L. Martello.)
“In many ways it’s as if God was preparing me for another level of the ministry. Now we have both sympathy and empathy,” said Rev. Grayson, pastor of Wesley Center AMEZ Church in the Hill District. “The only thing that’s holding us is our faith and even with that we go through the typical emotions of grief like questioning God. We believe and know he is with God.”
On Oct. 18 Washington County police arrested Keith Jones, 19, charging him with homicide and aggravated assault in association with the death of Grayson and the injury of two others. According to police, Jones was denied entry to a party near the California University campus when he opened fire on the apartment.
“We don’t want his name to go in vain and so we’re going to continue to be active against gun violence and the system behind it,” Rev. Grayson said. “When a gun is in the hand of a kid, because of pride today, there’s no telling what could happen.”
Jones, a Monessen resident who did not attend the university, turned himself in to police. His record includes prior arrests for fighting, harassment and disorderly conduct dating back to when he was 12 years old.
Grayson was studying business management at Hampton University and a recent gradate of Schenley High School where he was part of the football team that won their first City League championship in 50 years. He was a Courier All City selection on offense and defense.
Reverend Grayson is the executive director of the Center that C.A.R.E.S, which offers children and adults educational and recreational activities in the hope of decreasing violence. His son was actively involved in the center’s programming, serving as a mentor to youth and his peers.
“People remember his swag, his smile,” Rev. Grayson said. “It’s one thing to have on the outside in terms of clothes what he had on the inside.”
In his time as pastor of Wesley Center, Rev. Grayson has buried many young men whose death came at the hands of Black on Black violence, but nothing could prepare him for what happened to his son. Perhaps even more shocking was the call that came from the perpetrator parents.
“I told them we both lost sons,” Rev. Grayson said. “Our hearts go out to other parents and the parents of perpetrators.”
Jeron’s mother Marsha Grayson along with siblings Shinora and Glenn Garrett are doing their best to honor his memory while coping with an intense feeling of loss.
“It’s really horrific. It just so happens that the bullet with no name took our son,” said Marsha Grayson. “There has been an outpouring of love to us. We just pray that other people have people to surround them.”
Hampton University held a candlelight vigil on Oct. 19, and encouraged students to wear polo shirts, Jeron’s signature clothing choice. Epiphany Catholic Church is also planning a memorial to show support for the Grayson family.
The wake will be held from 4-8 p.m. Oct. 20 and a funeral will be at 11 a.m. Oct. 21 at Wesley Center. In lieu of flowers, Grayson asked that donations be directed to C.A.R.E.S and a scholarship fund being set up in Jeron’s memory.