EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Election Day should have been full of celebration for newly elected Pigeon Township Trustee Mariama Wilson.
But instead, she was waiting to find out if a man found dead behind an Evansville home that morning was the young man she had helped raise.
Rumors spread Tuesday that 21-year-old Amon Johnson was the-yet-to-be-identified man who had been fatally shot. Wilson found out it might be him when she got a call from an acquaintance asking if Johnson was okay. She had no idea what they were talking about.
She tried to call Johnson, she said, but he didn’t pick up the phone.
“The election results kind of just went out of my mind,” Wilson said. “I wouldn’t say it didn’t matter, but I couldn’t think about anything else at that time except ‘Is this my child that they found? Is it really him?’”
Johnson was shot and killed early this week. His body was found in an alley in the 600 block of East Missouri Street shortly before 7 a.m. Tuesday. He was publicly identified as the shooting victim Tuesday night, less than an hour before the polls closed.
Evansville Police are investigating his death as a homicide. The coroner said he died of multiple gunshot wounds.
Johnson was not her biological son, Wilson said, but she helped raise him.
She and Johnson had known each other for almost a decade, since he became friends with her children. Wilson took Johnson in after his adopted mother died. He was living with Wilson when he died.
“I recall him as resilient,” she said. “He was a fighter, a survivor.”
He was also a charmer, Wilson remembers. Johnson’s laugh was contagious.
“He got along with everybody,” she said. “For him, it was so simple.”
Johnson’s sister, DaSha Arnold, echoed Wilson. Johnson made people feel comfortable.
“He was everybody’s son, brother, cousin, uncle,” Arnold said.
Johnson was the 12th homicide victim in Evansville so far this year, according to city police. Vanderburgh County saw a historic high murder total in 2017, with at least 20 people killed. Fifteen of those deaths were the result of gun violence.
Law enforcement, other local officials and neighborhood groups have stepped up efforts to stop gun and drug-related violence in the city.
Wilson leads one of those groups. She is part of the Evansville chapter of Mothers Against Senseless Killing (MASK), an advocacy group aiming to prevent violence by building stronger communities. MASK members hold vigils for victims of gun violence, cook for block parties and patrol their neighborhoods.
“I walk the streets in our community to prevent stuff like this from happening,” Wilson said. “When you’re at the forefront, it really is hard.”
Any life lost is painful, Wilson said. That’s why she got involved in MASK.
“But this one hit home,” Wilson said. “This one was one of mine.”
Johnson was “not a perfect child,” she said, but he always wanted to improve. When Wilson confronted him about a problem, he listened.
“That’s what I loved the most about him,” Wilson said. “He did strive to be a better person, a better daddy to his child.”
Johnson was survived by his son, who is only a year old.
Family and friends held a vigil for Johnson at a city park Wednesday. Arnold drove up to Evansville from her home in Nashville, Tennessee, that afternoon.
“It could’ve been anybody’s family member in the community,” Arnold said. “I’m very much upset that this is my brother, but even more that this is something that’s happening a lot. … This is too much.”
For Wilson, the shooting was a reminder of how important groups like MASK can be for the Evansville community.
“It makes us know that our work is not ever going to be done,” she said. “We can’t be idle on a situation like this because it still happens, even when we think that everything is calmed down and everything is okay. …
“We need to still be vigilant in our efforts and bring more programs, or whatever needs to be done, into the community so that these things don’t happen.”
A memorial visitation for Johnson has been scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Monday with a funeral service starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Arnold said the services would be held at Church of the Harvest, 7825 Oak Hill Road in Evansville.
Evansville Police have asked anyone who was near East Missouri Street late Monday or early Tuesday to call EPD at 812-436-7979 or the WeTip hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME.
- Penang Shootout: Victims' Family Can Request For Inquests, Even If They Were Gangsters
- Survivors attend benefit concert for Vegas shooting victims
- Sia has a powerful new music video honoring Orlando shooting victims
- CBS exec fired after making insensitive remarks about Las Vegas shooting victims
- Orlando shooting victims give terrifying accounts of massacre at gay club that left 49 dead
- These Malaysians Think That The Orlando Shooting Victims 'Deserve It' Because They Are Gay
- Flight 370 victims’ families angry, resigned as search ends
- Victims’ families hope for justice under Duterte
- Cinemark wants Colorado theater shooting victims to pay $700,000 in legal fees
- Country star Eric Church broke down during a tribute to Las Vegas shooting victims: ‘Those were my people’