BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Ji’Ron Jeffery Dent was not related to Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry or his brother, Zone 5 City Commissioner Patrick Henry, but both are slated to speak at the late teen’s funeral this Saturday.
The 17-year old died at Halifax Hospital on March 7 from a gunshot wound to the head. He was shot on March 4 in the Madison Heights subdivision following an argument over a stolen vehicle.
This incident and others involving youth have sparked Patrick Henry to start a mentoring program.
“I was asked to speak by the young man’s mother and I will do so. My brother, the mayor will also speak,” Patrick Henry told the Daytona Times this week.
Dent’s funeral is set for 2 p.m. at Living Faith World Ministries, 950 Derbyshire Road in Daytona Beach.
The mentoring program is being started by Patrick Henry and will be housed in the Derbyshire area with 15 teenage boys to start. So far, 12 young men are signed on, but others are inquiring.
“The mayor – my brother – and I have talked about this for a long time. The recent incidents made me realize that I cannot wait any longer,” the commissioner said. “I was thinking, ‘What am I waiting on?’’’
Dent’s family wants people to know that he wasn’t perfect but says his life was taken way too soon.
“He has a record and has even been involved in illegal activity. That is no secret, but he still did not deserve to be killed. The family is devastated and grieving for the loss of their loved one. They are now reaching out to help others save kids’ lives,” said Norma Bland, a community activist and spokesperson for Dent’s mother, Trena Cord, and family.
“I think that it is a wonderful idea for Mr. Henry who has worked with children for a long time to do this. He is comfortable with the children as well as their parents. I think that it will be a difference maker and make an impact on these kids’ lives,” added Bland.
One of the goals of the mentoring program will be to give the youngsters some one-on-one attention.
“A lot of young men get into trouble. They get incarcerated – whether it’s in the detention center or other programs. I realize that a lot of these men never get any individual or personal one-on-one time where somebody asks them what they have to say,” said Commissioner Henry.
He also touched on the act of violence plaguing the city’s Black community.
Police reports indicate that Dent was riding in a red Ford 500 with John Headon when it was followed and later fired upon by a gray Dodge charger. Both vehicles were reported stolen.
The occupants of the Dodge Charger – George Green, Jr., Justin Nelson, Tijuan Isaac and Enrique Chapmen – all have been arrested.
Both Isaac, 18, and Chapman, 20, have been charged with first-degree premeditated murder. Isaac also was charged with possession of cocaine, trespassing and possession of cannabis under 20 grams. Isaac was identified as the shooter and Chapman the driver, according to police reports.
Green, 18, was charged with grand theft auto and resisting arrest without violence. Nelson, 22, was charged with motor vehicle grand theft and violation of probation.
Education is key
“Our police department has statistics that show that there is a group of about 20 to 25 young men committing most of these car thefts and some of them have multiple charges. A car is a deadly weapon just like a gun,” commented Henry.
He also believes that education is key to helping these youngsters.
“In this county, there is a statistic that 50 percent of Black men don’t get a high school education,” Henry explained. “I noticed at my son’s graduation two years ago that most of the Black graduates were girls. The boys had disappeared. It wasn’t many. The question is what happened?’’
Henry is seeking mentors and taking applications for other teenagers.
For more information about the mentoring program, call Commissioner Patrick Henry at 386-307-3926.