Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Youth shot to death, 2nd hurt

Lincoln Heights police investigate

By David Eck
Enquirer contributor

LINCOLN HEIGHTS - Byron Johnson's family and friends were searching for answers Monday afternoon after the 17-year-old was fatally shot about a block from his home.

"He was supposed to have been at home asleep," said Elizabeth Hines, Johnson's mother. "I have no idea when he left."

Johnson and an unidentified 17-year-old were shot about 3 a.m. Monday near Leggett and Adams streets in Lincoln Heights, family members said.

Police would not release the second teen's name or condition, but did say he was hospitalized.

Lincoln Heights Police Sgt. Sandra Stevenson said there is no known motive for the shootings and no suspects have been identified. Village officers are investigating.

The shooting death left Johnson's family members stunned.

"He was a fine boy, respectful," said Idella Nelson, Johnson's grandmother.

"That's why I couldn't understand why somebody would do this to him. His mama usually makes him come in around 11 or (midnight). She's pretty strict on him."

Family members said the boy was never in any trouble and was not involved in drugs or guns.

"That's why I can't understand it," Nelson said. "He was a fine, respectful young man."

Nelson learned that her grandson had been shot when Hines called her between 3:30 and 4 a.m.

Sitting on the porch of her small home on Adams Street, Johnson's aunt, Trina Nelson, held a photo of her smiling nephew and dabbed her eyes as she talked about him. Johnson turned 17 less than two weeks ago.

"He was almost home," she said. "He just didn't make it. He wasn't a drug dealer. This is a real surprise."

The two boys might have been accosted by one or more people who wanted to rob them, family members said.

"They didn't have nothing on them to take," Trina Nelson said. "He was a good boy. He really was. Sometimes you got some bad ones, but this was one of the good ones."

E-mail daveck@fuse.net

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