Lifelong friends of Asiyanna Jones: 'There will literally never be another Yanna. Ever.'
PITTSFIELD — Life will be darker without Asiyanna Jones, said friends of the 22-year-old woman who died last week in a city shooting.
Her friends remember her as spontaneous, energetic, outgoing and goofy.
"She's definitely the one that gets us all hyper," said her friend, Trinity Newman. "She'd be the one with the plans."
Jones was found wounded the night of Oct. 1 in a vehicle parked on Dewey Avenue; she died early the next day at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. The state medical examiner ruled her death a homicide, concluding that the cause of death was a gunshot to the head.
Pittsfield police last week said they have been "working all hours of the night" on the case, and issued a plea to the public for information about the shooting,
Newman and her friend, Camia Kazimierczak, said that to know Yanna, as she was called, was to love her.
Jones, Newman and Kazimierczak were an inseparable trio since they were babies. Friendships among their parents brought them together, and a bond quickly blossomed.
Newman and Kazimierczak said Jones was always motivating the crew to go on strange adventures, like driving to Rhode Island just to get seafood, which they say was Yanna's favorite food.
Her boisterous and brave energy led the group on wacky, late-night outings that included dancing around the aisles of Walmart.
"She was fearless," Newman said. "I don't think she was ever scared."
She often had a hankering for crab legs, they said, laughing. Every Sunday, Kazimierczak said, they'd drive to Albany, where Jones would get her hair washed and set, and then they'd eat at Kenneth's, a Caribbean-American restaurant.
"She always wants to eat," she said.
But her eating would often take place off her friends' plates.
"She would act like she didn't like food and then eat all of it," Newman said.
When Newman and Kazimierczak got an apartment several years ago, Jones "brought her bag and never left." Kazimierczak said they were roommates at the time of her death. They even shared jobs, including a stint where they worked together at American Eagle in Lee.
They said Yanna was notorious for the 10-minute catnap that would always turn into an hour and a half. Her favorite drink, they said, was Hennessy. Lately, she was into hip-hop artist Lil Uzi Vert.
Kazimierczak and Newman said she never let them forget her birthday — there was a yearlong countdown that began the moment celebrations stopped.
Newman said Jones played a key role in raising her son, now 5, whose first word was "Nana." That's what he called her.
"I don't think that he gets that we're not going to see her again," Newman said.
Jones was born June 7, 1995, in Georgia. She moved to Pittsfield with her family at age 2, and graduated from Pittsfield High School. She previously attended Taconic High School, where she was on the cheerleading team.
She was an energetic kid who liked to sing, dance, ride bikes and play house.
Her friends said Jones wanted to pursue a career in cosmetology or fashion. She was also skilled at research, they said, and would dig up interesting things online.
"Once you tell her about something, she'll research it for an hour," Kazimierczak said.
And she was "her own person."
"If she's not into it, she voices her opinion," Newman said. "She doesn't hold back."
A memorial GoFundMe page for Jones has raised over $4,000 for her grieving family.
Her friends said that, though Yanna was "a mini version of her mom," her personality was irreplaceable. They'll miss her smile, and her infectious laughter.
"There will literally never be another Yanna," Newman said. "Ever."
Reach Amanda Drane at 413-496-6296, or @amandadrane on Twitter.
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