Former LSU linebacker Tahj Jones’ condition improves

Three days after a bullet tore through his abdomen, former LSU linebacker Tahj Jones’ condition improved at an Alexandria hospital following a second surgery Sunday to remove the bullet, family friend Shane Hanchey said Monday.

The Sulphur native, who was shot by fellow LSU alum Brandon Winey, spoke to friends and family for the first time since he was admitted to Rapides Regional Medical Center and has been taken off a ventilator.

“I talked to him for a brief minute,” said Hanchey, who’s been friends with Jones and the player’s adoptive family since they were in middle school and went to Sulphur High. “You could tell his throat was sore from all (the tubes) being down his throat.”

Winey, 36, who was an offensive lineman for the Tigers from 1998 until 2000, remained in Sulphur City Jail on a $1 million bail on a count of attempted second-degree murder.

Hanchey said Jones avoided having a steel plate inserted or a complete hip replacement after the bullet cut a diagonal path from just below the linebacker’s left rib cage before settling in his right hip.

The first surgery, performed after Jones was transferred from Calcasieu Cameron Hospital, was to halt bleeding after a major artery was severed, a wound that may have cost Jones his life if not for a clot that formed, Hanchey said.

“When they opened him up, they couldn’t believe he was still living,” Hanchey said.

A spokesman at Rapides said Jones remains in serious condition at the facility.

The shooting took place late Friday at an apartment complex on Beglis Parkway in Sulphur. Jones showed up unannounced to visit a female friend, while Winey arrived later and an altercation ensued.

Winey produced a handgun and shot Jones, according to a news release issued Saturday by Sulphur police.

Winey, a sixth-round draft pick in 2001, fled the scene but later was arrested at his Lake Charles residence.

Meanwhile, Jones was transported to Cameron by the female friend, entering the hospital under his own power and showing the wound to medical staff, Hanchey said.

The news that Jones, for now, will not need further surgery comes as a relief.

On Wednesday, the linebacker, a reserve for much of his career in Baton Rouge, took part in the Tigers’ Pro Day after making two starts and notching 47 tackles during his time with LSU.

News of Jones’ injuries prompted former teammates — namely fellow linebackers D.J. Welter, Lamar Lewis and Lamin Barrow — to send out messages on Twitter asking fans for their prayers.

Barrow, who wrapped up his playing career this season for LSU, took a break from his own preparations to drive up from New Orleans to be by Jones’ side this weekend, Hanchey said.

“You hear guys talk about the brotherhood all the time,” he said. “But this shows you there’s something real to it.”