BATESBURG, S.C. — Pamela Shaw said she didn’t recognize the blue BMW that parked in front of her Youman Street home Saturday morning, and it worried her.
“This is a quiet street,” Shaw said. “Nobody ever comes here.”
When the car didn’t drive away, she eventually went out to see who it might be. That’s when she saw Joshua Tremaine Jones standing in her driveway.
She was surprised to see her 26-year-old cousin, she said. It had been months since their last conversation. Even so, she said Jones didn’t offer his usual hug, and hardly said anything when she asked him to come inside.
“He looked like he had been crying,” she said Tuesday. “He was very quiet.”
Shaw said she didn’t know about any of the events that had police searching for Jones that morning. She didn’t know that Jones’ pregnant girlfriend, Cayce Vice, was lying dead in her Augusta apartment. She didn’t know that Aiken Public Safety Master Cpl. Sandra E. Rogers had been fatally wounded near Eustis Park. She didn’t know about the high-speed chase that morning in which police say Jones eluded his pursuers.
“If I had known about any of that, he would not have come into my house,” she said.
Still, she knew something was amiss. Jones took a seat on a couch in her living room and dropped his eyes to the floor, avoiding all conversation.
“I kept asking, ‘What’s wrong, Josh? Are you OK?’” Shaw said. “He just kept saying, ‘I’m OK.’”
Soon, the two were joined by Shaw’s daughter, Porsha, and her 1-month-old granddaughter. Porsha Shaw said Jones was distant, but not agitated or acting strangely.
“He just wouldn’t make eye contact,” she said.
Pamela Shaw said she knew Jones as a relative who had reached out to her several months earlier for help. Jones told her he had lost all his identification and didn’t have a job or a place to stay. He wanted to use her house as a mailing address until he got back on his feet, she said.
“He was just a cousin I tried to help. He was down on his luck,” she said. “I told him, ‘You really need to pull yourself back together and try to be productive.’”
Shaw said Jones never lived with her and checked in infrequently. She really didn’t know where he was staying.
“He was just moving from house to house,” she said. “I hadn’t talked with him since way before Thanksgiving.”
After Jones had been in her home for an hour or so, Shaw said she needed to run an errand, so she asked her cousin to accompany her to the store.
They walked outside and Shaw started the car, but Jones didn’t get in.
“He walked away,” she said. “That’s when I saw the police. They came out of everywhere.”
Shaw said dozens of police officers swarmed Jones and pointed weapons at her and her daughter, placing them in handcuffs.
“That’s the worst day of my life. I’ve never been involved in anything like that,” Shaw said.
Tears come to her eyes whenever she thinks about that morning. She hasn’t been able to go back to work yet.
“It scared the daylights out of me,” she said. “I’m still shaking.”
Despite the traumatic experience, Shaw said she doesn’t hold anything against the officers who made the arrest. She can only think of the families of the victims and how they must be suffering.
“If it had been my family, I would want them to do the same thing,” she said.
Jones, charged with murder in the slaying of Rogers, remains in the Aiken County Detention Center. Murder warrants also await him in Richmond County in Vice’s killing, police said.
Porsha Shaw said videos showing Jones’ erratic behavior at Monday’s bond hearing were very troubling.
“I’ve never seen him act anything like that,” she said. “We’ve never seen that side of him.”
Since Saturday’s events, Pamela Shaw said she has been embarrassed to see cars of curious onlookers drive by her home. She hopes others can understand that they had no part in what Jones is accused of, but she’s having trouble making sense of it herself.
“I don’t know why he came here. I don’t know what he was thinking,” she said. “None of this seems real.”