By ROBERT STEWART
Tiger Rag Assistant Editor
Former LSU linebacker Tahj Jones had recovered enough by Tuesday from a gunshot wound Friday night to be able to stand and march in place for doctors, Jones’ trainer said.
Jones was shot late Friday in his hometown of Sulphur, allegedly by former LSU offensive tackle Brandon Winey, during an argument over a woman at the Town and Country Apartments on South Beglis Parkway, Sulphur police have said.
Jones, 24, has been listed in serious condition since doctors finished their initial surgery with him Saturday morning at the Rapides Regional Medical Center, hospital officials have said.
Mack Chuilli, head of the Traction Center for Sports Excellence in Baton Rouge, an athletic training facility where Jones had been working out, said Jones had recovered well enough by Tuesday to stand and march in place.
"His strength is coming back,” Chuilli said.
Chuilli said he has not had a chance to visit Jones yet but has been in constant contact with Jones’ family. He said he might visit Jones on Wednesday, though Jones is not in a condition where people can visit him frequently.
The bullet hit Jones in his abdomen on his left side, just below his rib cage, Chuilli said. The bullet, which has been removed, also appeared to have traveled far enough to damage his intestines and hit his pelvic bone. Jones has also been on a feeding tube.
Doctors considered placing a metal plate in Jones’ hip, which would have affected his recovery time, but determined the plate was unnecessary, Chuilli said.
Doctors are still running tests on Jones and have no long-term prognosis for his recovery, but Chuilli remained optimistic that Jones’ youth and athleticism will help him bounce back.
"He seems to be pulling himself back up from this,” the trainer said. "I just hope he continues to get better every day.”
Jones’ family has also been holding up about as well as expected since the shooting, Chuilli said.
"Obviously, it was a very, very scary situation,” Chuilli said. "These things can turn real quick sometimes. But they’re handling it well. They’re so thankful for everybody’s prayers.”
Jones, a 6-foot-2, 205-pounder, played his last season at LSU in 2013 and participated in LSU’s Pro Day last week.
A two-time all-state selection at Sulphur High School, Jones redshirted his freshman season at LSU in 2009 and saw limited action in 2010 and 2011. He was expected to compete for a starting position as a junior in 2012 but played only one game because of academic eligibility issues.
Chuilli said the St. Louis Rams, who had been interested in Jones as possibly an undrafted free agent, have been in touch with Jones’ camp to monitor his status.
Winey, 36, was arrested in his hometown of Lake Charles after driving away from the scene, police have said. He was booked into the Sulphur City Jail on a count of attempted second-degree murder and given a $1 million bond.
Winey played his last season at LSU in 2000 and was drafted in 2001 by the Miami Dolphins but played only three seasons in the NFL.
LSU officials have said they are aware of the incident but have declined further comment.