Cumberland County, N.J. (WTXF) - A youth football coach was shot and killed right after practice in Cumberland County.
“B-O-L-T-S. Bolts, bolts, bolts,” cheered the Millville Midget League Football Team. It was an encouraging sign that these kids have learned a lot from playing football. A day after one of their coaches was murdered they showed resilience, determination and a desire to push forward.
“He also showed them not to give up and we as parents showed them not to give up so we’re not giving up,” said Jeanette Melecio. Her 6-year-old son Juan plays for the league along with Leslie Maldonado’s 7-year old son Jovanie.
“That’s what they love is to play football. It gets them out of the house and enjoy what they love,” said Maldonado. Investigators say last night someone shot 37-year-old Joseph Jones as practice was ending on the fields behind Lakeside Middle School. Coach Jones was in the parking lot where today a small memorial sits.
“We want y’all to know that we’re sorry that as coaches that we put y’all in a vulnerable position where we were helpless. That’s not something any of us can be prepared for,” said Coach JT Burks. He also recalled the terrifying moments of last night.
“It was tragic you know coaches were in different places because we were dispersing. That’s when we heard everything transpire. Some kids started running and that’s when the coaches began to react and shield the kids," he said. Coach Burks says the loss of Coach Jones is tremendous because of what he meant to the kids.
“He would always let them know that don’t follow some of the mistakes I made in the past, try to push forward and be a better individual. So I really appreciated him for that,” said Coach Burks. A Millville Police Chaplain encouraged the team to move forward in memory of Coach Jones.
“We ain’t running, we going to stay and do what we have to do to win another champion ship for that coach,” he says as the crowd applauded.
It's unclear whether the league will go on. The league president didn't attend the meeting nor did he respond to a message we left for him. No motive or arrests yet in the shooting.