To his friends and family, Kevin Johnson was a “good brother.”
Friends, family, and members of the Cease Fire Committee gathered Friday to hold a candlelight vigil for Johnson near the driveway where he was gunned down.
“He had just gotten a job with the sanitation department,” said his girlfriend, Gretchen Thompson, 35.
But in the early morning hours of June 30, Johnson was shot multiple times by an unknown assailant or assailants as he exited his truck at 42nd Street and Sutro Avenue. He was left lying in a pool of blood in his driveway.
“Kevin called me on the phone around 3:30 a.m. and said he was going to stop by Popeye’s to get some chicken,” said Thompson. “Then he said he was coming home.”
Less than an hour later, Thompson said she was awakened by the sound of gunfire. “I heard about five to seven shots,” Thompson said. “I fell to the floor.”
Neighbors later reported hearing voices arguing on the quiet residential street and then the sound of someone running and the squeal of a car speeding off.
“I didn’t move for a long time,” said Thompson, who had a child, 2-year-old Kennedy, with Johnson.
“I called Kevin on his cell phone and he wasn’t responding,” recalled Thompson. “I went to the window. I could see his car so I knew he was downstairs but I was scared to come outside.”
Finally, Thompson summoned the courage to go outside and was stunned by what she saw.
“Kevin was lying there in the driveway bleeding,” she said.
Police and paramedics were summoned, but before they arrived, a neighbor felt Johnson’s pulse and reported that he was already dead.
Thompson said she is troubled by the death, in which police said they have no leads. After Johnson’s body was searched, it was discovered that Johnson’s wallet was missing.
“Kevin and I were together for seven years,” said Thompson, who met Johnson through mutual friends. “I keep thinking over and over, what could have happened?
“Kevin and I had plans. We talked about getting married and who would be in the wedding party–if we were going to have the wedding in the house or outside on a lawn. We were waiting until we were financially stable,” said Thompson.
Thompson said that Johnson seemed upbeat with no troubles. “I knew that if there was a problem, Kevin would have mentioned something to me,” said Thompson, who said that Johnson was not gang affiliated.
Thompson said that a week after Kevin’s death, his sister received Johnson’s credit card and identification in the mail, but the money from his wallet was missing.
Thompson said that Johnson was the father of three children and that she will miss Johnson playing with their daughter. “My daughter asks me everyday, ‘Where’s daddy?’ Kevin was intelligent, funny and he had tons of friends. He never met a stranger.”
“Kevin touched everyone some type of way,” said Geo, Kevin’s godbrother, who credited the Cease Fire Committee for helping him to cope with Johnson’s death. “I wanted to hold this candlelight vigil because Kevin’s death hurt so badly. I think about his death two and three times a day.”
Geo reflected that shootings of black males should be thoroughly investigated because they are increasing. “This system is designed to take us down and they’re doing a pretty good job. Nine times out of 10, it’s us (blacks) killing each other. We’ve got to come up with solutions.”
Geo said he has been greatly affected by Johnson’s death. “His death affected me so much, I almost wanted to go out and do something stupid,” he admitted. “Kevin was a hard worker, a family man. He took care of his kid.”
Thompson said that during Johnson’s funeral, Kevin Wicks, the postal worker fatally shot by Inglewood police weeks after Johnson’s death, attended Johnson’s funeral.
Gregory Jordan, Johnson’s brother, said he was troubled by the police investigation that left family and friends groping for answers.
“They had lead detectives out here going over the murder scene. They even set up a mobile sub station on the corner. Then they called family and friends outside and said that Kevin’s death was a case of road rage and that it wasn’t a gang killing.”
Pausing, he added, “We’ve been calling these detectives’ phone numbers and they don’t tell you how they’re doing with the investigation,” said Jordan. “If a police officer had been shot that many times, they would have solved the murder a long time ago.”
Jordan restlessly paced the sidewalk where his brother was killed. “I believe the police could have done more. They said it wasn’t gang related. But how could you determine that it was road rage that quickly?”
Many friends who had grown up with Johnson shed tears as they lit candles and said prayers for their friend.
Arvel Boyd was still shattered by the death of his friend, whom he had known since childhood.
“They got him. They shot him and he laid right there,” said Boyd, pointing to the spot where Johnson died. “We’re all coming to God, we just don’t know when. In the name of Jesus,” said Boyd. “Everybody must continue to love. Love conquers everything. No matter what trials and tribulations you go through, don’t let anybody take your joy,” said Boyd.
Bernice Perteet, 46, the mother of three girls who grew up with Johnson near 45th Street and Budlong Avenue, said she couldn’t believe it when she heard Johnson had been killed. Perteet said she is haunted by the last conversation that she had with and Johnson. “The last time we talked, Kevin said, ‘Keep an eye on the girls because you never know when you’re going to go.”