FL School Police Chief: "I'm No Hero"
Mike and Colleen Jones on "The Early Show." (CBS)
The Orlando Sentinal via YellowBrix
December 21, 2010
PANAMA CITY, FL – Mike Jones is being hailed as a hero for saving the lives of Bay County, Florida school board members Tuesday when gunman Clay Duke opened fire at a public board meeting. Jones, a former Panama City police officer, was on duty that day as the school district’s chief security officer, but he is well-known in the Florida panhandle community for his role as Salvage Santa.
While working as a police officer in Panama City, Jones encountered numerous families who were unable to afford Christmas gifts. Prompted by the need in the community, he started restoring old bicycles, raising money and collecting toys for needy children. This year, his 27th as Salvage Santa, he restored 137 bikes for children this Christmas. On Friday, just before he was interviewed on the Today show and Good Morning America, Jones learned that bicycle manufacturer Schwinn had donated 500 bikes and helmets valued at $65,000 for his efforts.
Jones is also an active member of Northside Baptist Church in Panama City.
“Mike’s a real special and unique person,” Northside’s senior pastor Luther Stanford told news outlets this week. “He is a servant through and through. Each and every day, Mike is doing something for somebody else. Whether it be for Salvage Santa or the school system. … I don’t know that I have ever seen him when he didn’t have a smile on his face. He’s a man of great faith and great passion for the Lord. He doesn’t take credit for a single thing that happened. He believes it was the hand of his Creator that protected him and the others.”
That sentiment was shared by Jones when interviewed by ABC’s Good Morning America. “There’s only one answer for while we’re alive, and that’s by the grace of God,” Jones said.
Jones has shared openly about the guilt he felt after taking Duke’s life and spent some time discussing his feelings with his pastor.
“Last night my wife and I went and got our granddaughter from daycare,” Jones told the Panama City News Herald. “Man I just held her and hugged her so much and loved on her and I was thinking you know Mr. Duke’s not going to get to do that this Christmas. And that’s the kind of thing that bothers me. Even though I know he came here to do bad and to do evil. … I just wish somebody would have recognized he had a problem before this and got him some help.”