LANDOVER -- Much in the way his wife crusaded against drugs when their first son died of a cocaine overdose four years ago, James "Butch" Bias says he will campaign against handgun violence which cost him and his wife a second son this week.
Hundreds are expected to attend the funeral service for the Biases' 20-year-old son, James Stanley "Jay" Bias 3rd, at 1 p.m. tomorrow at the Full Gospel A.M.E. Zion Church in Temple Hills.
Young Bias was shot to death Tuesday afternoon on a shopping center parking lot in Hyattsville as he and two friends drove away in a red four-wheel-drive truck. A gunman in a green Mercedes fired several times at the truck, striking Bias twice in the back. He was pronounced dead at 2:52 p.m. at the Leland Memorial Hospital in Riverdale.
Butch Bias spoke at a news conference last night on the front lawn of his home here. He also was critical of a judge's decision to grant bail to the man accused of killing his son.
Before Jay Bias died, his father said, his friends said he told them he loved his family and then recited the Lord's Prayer.
In June 1986, Jay's brother, Len, also died at Leland Memorial following a cocaine overdose at a University of Maryland dormitory. His death came two days after the Boston Celtics had signed him to a lucrative contract as a first-round National Basketball Association draft choice. Lonise Bias began her anti-drug campaign a short time later, speaking across the country.
During the 30-minute news conference, as friends of Jay's listened and sobbed, Butch Bias said the problem of violence is epidemic all over the country, and people have to address and tackle violence now before it becomes unstoppable and personal.
Butch Bias said his first act in his anti-handgun campaign would be today when he speaks at a panel discussion against guns, sponsored by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington. Among the other speakers is the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Bias said his feelings about guns always have been deep but they surfaced when his son was killed.
Bias said he believes that if a man kills, he also should be killed.
"I don't care if you got upset and pulled a gun . . .," he said, his eyes red. "I got a headache, I'm not shooting anybody."
He said those who sell guns also should be held accountable.
"Anybody who sells these guns is a murderer . . . just as well as the guy who pulled the trigger," Bias said. "They are providing the instrument of death."
As he talked, Lonise Bias and other relatives waited inside the home in the 1900 block of Columbia Ave.
Jerry Samuel Tyler, 24, of Temple Hills is accused of killing Jay Bias after an apparent argument at a jewelry store in Prince George's Plaza. Another suspect remains at large.
Tyler surrendered to police seven hours after the shooting and was charged with first-degree murder. A bail review hearing was held for him yesterday.
Prince George's County Circuit Court Judge Sylvania Woods set bail at $50,000 and ordered that Tyler's family post their Temple Hills home as collateral to prevent him from fleeing.
Under terms of his bond, Tyler could be released as early as today to get chemotherapy and radiation treatments for a cancerous skin condition.
Butch Bias said he could not "understand" the judge's decision to grant bail to Tyler. He said the man who killed his son was "cold blooded."
"He calculated, he followed . . . he fired into a vehicle with three unarmed people sitting in it," Bias said. "I think the judge has FTC erred in this decision."
If he posts bond, Tyler has to be electronically monitored with a wrist bracelet.
"It tells us where the person is and will also notify us if he steps outside of his assigned area [which is defined as] basically the house itself," said Christy Merenda, a spokeswoman for the county Department of Corrections. Tyler will have to check in with authorities at least once a day.