Man brutally beaten after standing up for bullied teen says he made right choice
Cody Roon, 20, is charged with aggravated battery causing harm. (The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office / September 6, 2013)
A 43-year-old man says he made the right decision when he tried to stop three buff bullies from picking on a 14-year-old at the beach. The man, Wen Jones, paid a high price for being a good Samaritan — the pack of 20-year-olds jumped on him and beat him savagely.
The beat down left the Jupiter resident, former Marine and father of two needing surgery to fix a fracture under his eye. He also had stitches all over his face, including his tear duct.
But three months after the attack at Juno Beach Park, still occasionally a little foggy from the concussion, Jones says it was worth it.
“I’m not happy to have been injured pretty severely, but at the same time, I ask myself, would I do it again? You know, it was the right thing to do, so I probably would,” he said.
On Wednesday, authorities arrested the last of the three men accused of pummeling Jones on May 19. They nabbed the first two last week.
Cody Moore Roon, Tyler Dylan Carswell and Eric Michael Deiter, all from Palm Beach County, are now facing aggravated battery charges because of the severity of the injuries Jones suffered.
The trouble started early that day at the park, with Roon, Carswell and Deiter bullying the younger kids on the beach, according to police reports. Witnesses told police the three were picking on one child in particular — the 14-year-old boy named Zion, who is an amateur competitive skateboarder from the Jupiter area. The men kicked sand in his face and called him names.
His father, 55-year-old LeRoy Wright Jr., said they used racial slurs toward Zion, who is black. But police have not charged the men with a hate crime, and investigators were not available Thursday to comment further.
Later that day, the 14-year-old and his friends stood near the restrooms and showers, waiting to go home. The three men continued to harass them, so Wright stepped in and told them to leave, the report said.
Jones, who was walking by, saw the gang of athletically built men menacing the man and his son. He knew they were about to attack — and decided he couldn’t let that happen.
“I couldn’t stand there and watch this older guy and kid get beaten up,” Jones said.
“I walked over, said, ‘Hey guys, calm down.’ The next thing I know, I’m in the middle of a melee. I got tangled up with one the biggest guys and he beat me in the back of the head until I was unconscious. When I came to, I was being beaten in the face.”
Around him, people reached for their cellphones and recorded the attack. Police have video from the scene but have not released it.
As the beating started, Jones said he ran to his car to grab a baseball bat. Zion, terrified, could do little more than cry.
The police came and Roon, Carswell and Deiter ran away, but were soon caught with the help of witnesses who pointed them out. Of the three, only Deiter has a criminal history. Florida Department of Law Enforcement records show he pleaded guilty to a battery charge in 2010, when he was 17, and was sentenced to probation.
The bystanders crowded in on Jones to ask if he was OK.
Blood poured from his nose and from one of his eyes, which was swollen shut, officers noted in their report. He was taken to the hospital and underwent surgery a few days later. Wright didn’t get a chance to ask Jones for his name, so he hasn’t talked to him since that day.
On Thursday, Wright said it hurts him to know Jones was so badly injured. He said he prays he’ll recover and hopes to speak with him again.
“I feel like this man literally risked his life, because he saw a situation that was bad, that he stepped up for, when you got your average people standing around videotaping and nobody stepped in,” Jones said. “I am so appreciative that out of all the people that was standing around on the beach that day, that he was the only one that stood up against these guys.”
Staff researcher Barb Hijek contributed to this report.
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