Twenty-year-old Jaylon Miller drifted off to beddy-bye the aboriginal Saturday of this new year, abutting in his parents’ South Dallas home and aflame that he’d anon be aback in his academy classes.
It had been a archetypal atramentous for this acutely religious household, with ancestors associates aloof blind out afterwards the youngest, 1-year-old Rory, and his 3-year-old sister, Ramiyah, had been tucked into bed.
But hours afterwards anybody was fast asleep, Jaylon awoke to a flurry of bullets announcement into the home on Valentine Street, a arena he declared as anarchy and “something you would see in the movies. You never anticipate it would appear to you until it absolutely does.”
When the battery abolition through three bedchamber windows assuredly stopped, Rory was asleep and Jaylon was actively wounded.
Five bullets had addled the academy student’s side, acute his shoulder, his abdomen and his leg. Had the bend of the sixth shot, which aching his head, been the aboriginal bit different, Jaylon acceptable wouldn’t be actuality to acquaint his adventure and, added importantly, to resume his bookish and career dreams.
In his aboriginal annual aback the baleful Jan. 5 attack, Jaylon talked with me Wednesday at his abode anteroom at the University of North Texas at Dallas. As his parents and his sister Ebony, who is Rory’s mother, sat nearby, Jaylon said his little nephew “was my joy” and “never gave us any bad times, aloof abundant memories.”
Now the ancestors can acquisition accord abandoned by reminding one accession that “God took a body with him to heaven, and all you can ask for is abiding activity for a adolescent adored activity like Rory,” Jaylon said.
The abandoned afterlife of one so innocent — Rory was about to bless his additional altogether — algid a burghal already active with too-frequent assassination annual and angered Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Anteroom to the point of proclaiming, “This s— has to stop.”
Hall declared the attack, which occurred about 3:40 a.m. in the Bonton neighborhood, as advised and targeted. The administration has called no suspects and continues to ask for advice in anecdotic the disciplinarian of a dark-colored Dodge auto that collection on Valentine Street about the time of the shooting.
Jaylon said he doesn’t apperceive why accession would appetite to aching his family. His focus has been on convalescent from his assorted wounds and accepting aback to the academy assignment that he knows is the aboriginal footfall against creating his own IT company.
From the moment he awoke in the hospital, still befuddled afterwards emergency surgery, he additionally was bent “to angle in a clothing and tie” and bear the acclaim for his admired Rory at the Jan. 18 funeral.
Three canicule afterwards Jaylon batten at his nephew’s service, he defied the allowance afresh and was aback in chic at UNT Dallas, breadth he’s a inferior majoring in advice technology.
“A lot of bodies alarm me lucky, but I see myself as actual abundant blessed,” Jaylon told me. “This absolutely shows God’s grace.”
If you accept that a person’s activity is absolved for a purpose, this 20-year-old is walking proof. He prefers to allocution about his blessings, not his trials. “Thanks to God” consistently punctuates his answers, and he’s not shy about bottomward a well-placed Scripture advertence into the discussion.
Jaylon is sobered by the tragedy that befell him and his family, but he doesn’t use it in any “can you accept this happened?” way. He is accommodating to allocution about that night, but he’s added absorbed on absolution bodies apperceive that it isn’t activity to apathetic him down.
“I could accept spent six weeks in bed. I could accept never gone aback to school. I could accept stopped. It’s aloof not in me to do that,” Jaylon said. “It’s aloof actual adamantine for me to accord up.”
Jaylon’s memories of the cutting activate with actuality alive by the complete of battery that he initially believed was accession disorderly annular of post-New Year’s celebrations nearby. “Sometimes the affair doesn’t stop for some people,” he recalled thinking.
A breach additional later, he accomplished “I couldn’t feel my arm” and “bullets were aerial about me.”
“That’s what fabricated me apprehend that instead of the bullets actuality in accession area, they were absolutely advancing against me.”
His mom, Casandra Miller, and his stepdad, Cecil Thomas, who has been a ancestor to Jaylon aback he was a adolescent boy, told me that the battery was so loud, they initially anticipation the ballista was central their home.
They rushed into Jaylon’s allowance and saw the curtains still aerial from the bullets. Cecil, a aloft Army medic, instructed his son “to be calm, get bottomward and clamber to us.”
“I told my mom I couldn’t breathe,” Jaylon said. “She went beeline into adoration approach and told me I was activity to breathe and I started breathing. It’s all a miracle.”
1/5A canonizing is apparent Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020, forth the sidewalk of a home breadth a cutting larboard 1-year-old Rory Norman asleep and blood-soaked his uncle.(Ryan Michalesko / Agents Photographer)
2/5Ella Mae Beasley, 57, left, and her niece absolved by the home breadth Rory Norman and his uncle were attempt central their home on Valentine Street. Beasley, who has lived in the adjacency all her life, was sad about the afterlife of the boy.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)
3/5A babyish canonizing with flowers, balloons and cards grew alfresco of the home the night afterwards Rory and his uncle Jaylon were shot.(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)
4/5During a columnist conference, Police Chief U. Renee Anteroom paused afterwards actuality asked what it was like to see the home breadth 1-year-old Rory Norman was fatally shot. “It happened on my watch, and I am angry. And this s— has to stop in this city,” she said.(Juan Figueroa / Agents photographer)
5/5Well wishers larboard flowers at the Dallas home in the canicule afterwards the shooting.(Juan Figueroa / Agents photographer)
In accession to Jaylon and his parents, his sisters Cecilia and Ebony, forth with Ebony’s two children, were sleeping in the abode that night.
Nine-year-old Cecilia was in their parents’ allowance unharmed. But afterwards rescuing Jaylon, in the bosom of the confusing, disorienting scene, Cecil and Casandra heard 25-year-old Ebony activate to cry, “Pop, the baby.”
Ebony told me she was lying in her kids’ bedroom, alongside Rory and Ramiyah, aback “everything happened so fast.”
Ebony, who is 25, tries to be stoic, but she can’t affectation her affecting affliction for her absent son.
“I apperceive I’m not absolutely OK, but as continued as I’m busy, I’m accomplishing fine,” she told me in the quietest of voices. “Mentally, I’m not. Certain images I will consistently bethink — acrimonious up my son, seeing things like that.”
With their damaged abode briefly uninhabitable, Ebony and Ramiyah are blockage in a auberge with Cecil and Casandra.
Ebony is blessed to see her brother aback in school.
“I’m additionally appreciative of Jaylon for ascent aloft a lot of stereotypes that bodies put on adolescent atramentous men,” she said. “For not accedence to associate pressure. I acknowledge him for caring for Rory as abundant as he did and the 18-carat adulation amid them.”
The day afore my annual with Jaylon, his doctor had removed the staples put in abode to adjustment his injuries. Jaylon talked artlessly about the aperture in his leg and the bandages that defended the wounds breadth several of the bullets entered and exited.
He alike joked about the continued cavity aloof beneath his abdomen button. “I had to get surgery, but I can still get my six-pack if I appetite it,” he said with his alluring smile.
Most abating to his mother, who absolutely understands the acceptation of the ammo that abandoned aching her son, is the afterimage of Jaylon’s beard growing over the babyish but alarming atom against the aback of his head.
Jaylon gets it, too. “I could accept aloof been a vegetable — aloof like a babyish not alive how to action — or I could accept been dead. Which is aloof accession affair to acknowledge God for because there’s annihilation added adored than life.”
He maintains that he’s not in a bit of concrete pain, except on break aback he rolls over in bed or gets up in the morning.
Nor has the cutting larboard him attractive over his shoulder. He’s focused on what’s in advanced of him, which is why he lobbied adamantine for UNT Dallas to acquiesce him to acknowledgment to academy — admitting still actuality in the hospital aback the bounce division began.
Jaylon’s aback in chic because “I don’t appetite to be accession accomplishment … I don’t appetite to be accession ‘coulda been’ or ‘could accept had.’” He is actual acquainted of the abrogating factors that absorb up adolescent African American men, abnormally in southern Dallas neighborhoods.
Stephanie Holley, UNT Dallas carnality admiral of apprentice admission and success, told me that “stories such as Jaylon’s are the school’s absolute acumen for being.”
“It’s already actual clear, alike admitting he is aloof at the alpha of his life, that he is activity to do article amazing,” she said. “We’re accustomed as a university ancestors to be a allotment of his story.”
Holley said that as anon as academy leaders abstruse of Jaylon’s admiration to acknowledgment this semester, they devised a way to accomplish that happen. They additionally helped amount out the affairs of accepting him a allowance in the UNT Dallas abode hall.
Jaylon’s medical accretion includes approved concrete analysis and, because he now lives on campus, agents is accessible for any abutment he ability charge in the future.
Cecil and Casandra are trudging their own alley of boss obstacles. The victim abetment funds that accept covered their auberge bill won’t aftermost forever. They accept abandoned one vehicle, which Casandra uses to shuttle anybody breadth they charge to be anniversary day.
Those duties — and the accepted ambiguity of the family’s lives — affected her to booty a acting leave from her job at Walmart, which has put added banking ache on the family.
I didn’t apprentice of those hardships from them, but rather from the UNT Dallas community. This ancestors no agnosticism is still in shock, but they additionally don’t put abundant banal in complaining. “We are strong,” Cecil said. We are advancing out of it, by the adroitness of God.”
Born in Duncanville and aloft in Pleasant Grove, Jaylon abounding Kiest Elementary, breadth his bookish achievement becoming him his aboriginal computer. He said he has been in adulation with technology anytime since.
Casandra aloft Ebony, Jaylon and three earlier ancestors abandoned until she affiliated Cecil 14 years ago. She told me that her parenting action has been “to put God aboriginal and to do my best to rear them with that aforementioned belief.”
When Jaylon was 13, the ancestors confused to Bonton, breadth they congenital what was again the abandoned brick abode in the area. Jaylon, who would go on to alum from Lincoln High School, fabricated lots of accompany and enjoyed activity in a adjacency he continued advised safe.
“I was never in any bunch or gang,” he said. “We were never targeted or in abhorrence for our lives until this happened.”
Jaylon said his parents are his No. 1 role models. “My dad and I allocution about aggregate — African American ability or what’s the approaching of technology or what should bodies be accomplishing in this world,” he said.
But Jaylon’s ancestors told me that, from a adolescent age, he additionally spent a lot of time in his own world, walking alfresco — abysmal in anticipation — as he twirled pieces of wire amid his fingers.
“He was consistently brainstorming,” Cecil said. “He’d say, ‘Pop, I’m aloof cerebration about how to be Steve Jobs.’ And we’d say, ‘OK, man, accumulate at it.’”
Two summers ago, Casandra recalled, while all the added kids were out accepting fun, he buried himself in his bedchamber and accomplished himself about coding. But while Jaylon is ardent and astute above his years, he’s still a kid who can beam over his adulation for slurping up a basin of Cocoa Pebbles.
Not continued ago, he told me, he accomplished that he didn’t appetite to be the abutting Bill Gates or the abutting Steve Jobs. “I anticipate you should strive to be all you can be and the best you can be, which God created you to be,” he said. “So I’m appetite to be the abutting Jaylon Miller.”
1/6Jaylon Miller after-effects to a acquaintance beyond the campus accepted breadth at the University of North Texas at Dallas on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020 in Dallas.(Ryan Michalesko / Agents Photographer)
2/6Jaylon Miller stretches a shirt over his arch as a cast covers a gunshot anguish on his accept at the University of North Texas at Dallas on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020 in Dallas.(Ryan Michalesko / Agents Photographer)
3/6Jaylon Miller looks over his accept to his abecedary during an computer operating systems chic at the University of North Texas at Dallas on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020 in Dallas.(Ryan Michalesko / Agents Photographer)
4/6Jaylon Miller looks delivers a presentation during an computer operating systems chic at the University of North Texas at Dallas on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020 in Dallas.(Ryan Michalesko / Agents Photographer)
5/6While dining with his acquaintance Shane Akinbobola, 19, right, Jaylon Miller, center, embraces his acquaintance Ruby Davis, who spotted him from beyond the cafeteria at the University of North Texas at Dallas on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020 in Dallas.(Ryan Michalesko / Agents Photographer)
6/6Working to aces an accouterments for the day, Jaylon Miller tries on a brace of sunglasses in his abode allowance mirror at the University of North Texas at Dallas on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020 in Dallas.(Ryan Michalesko / Agents Photographer)
Since his family’s affliction began in January, UNT Dallas, both the academy and its continued community, has rallied to advice Jaylon get aback on track.
Military adept and alum Keio Gamble was amid the aboriginal to affix with the ancestors afterwards the academy put out an active that one of its own had been actively injured. Gamble and Marijke Gray, the school’s abettor veterans director, visited Jaylon as anon as he confused from the hospital to his family’s acting hotel.
“To my surprise, aback we got to the hotel, he was that aforementioned upbeat adolescent man I had apparent about campus,” Gamble said. “It was unbelievable. He’s still got the animation in his eye and the activity that you anticipate would accept diminished.”
So abounding agents members, acceptance and alumni accept played a role in accepting Jaylon aback into academy that afterwards he ticked off a diffuse annual of names of bodies he capital to thank, he shuddered over the anticipation of missing someone.
Spearheaded by student-veterans on campus, advocates accept shopped, cooked, searched online and fabricated calls on annual of Jaylon’s ancestors to try to advice affluence their burdens.
One of those is Melawn Dineen, who accustomed her undergraduate amount from UNT Dallas and is in the school’s accessible administration alum program. She didn’t apperceive Jaylon afore the shooting, but “when article like this happens — so abutting — it’s about a accustomed that we are activity to footfall in.”
Like Jaylon, his parents accept acclimatized their approaching to acceptance in God. “We’re aggravating to amount all this out, one day at a time, what is the abutting step. It’s been a adamantine journey, but by the adroitness of God, we’re authoritative it. We’re authoritative it,” Casandra said.
I consistently end my interviews by allurement if there’s annihilation I haven’t accustomed the actuality a adventitious to say. In this case, Jaylon responded, “If you do accept acceptance in God, consistently accumulate it. Don’t let annihilation in activity stop you from actuality what you were destined to be … And don’t ever, anytime about-face your aback on your family.”
With that ardent benediction, he had an operating systems chic to get to — and a apple to conquer.
— Contact the UNT Dallas Foundation at 972.338.1100 or UNTD-Advancement@untdallas.edu
— A GoFundMe annual has been set up on annual of Jaylon Miller and Rory Norman.
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