Betty Johnson

 

Age: 81
Shot: Andre Taylor (great-grandson) Age 16

Case summary: One week after his sixteenth birthday, Andre Taylor was walking his girlfriend to the bus stop. His family heard gunshots and ran outside to see Andre lying on the lawn of the house next to theirs. Case status: Unsolved.

The night her great-grandson was shot and killed, Betty Johnson remembers standing on her porch, not allowed past the crime scene boundaries police had set up. 

“I remember just looking at him, I couldn’t do anything, he was just laying there on the ground, with the rain falling, and they were keeping us from coming to him until the coroner got there.” She wipes a tear.

“It took a lifetime for the coroner to come,” she says. “I had to sit there and just look at him. That was the most hurting thing. I sometimes think this is a dream, and it’s like, I’m going to wake up,” she says. “But then I realize it’s real. He’s gone.”


I sometimes think this is a dream, and it’s like, I’m going to wake up. But then I realize it’s real. He’s gone.

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Andre was a student athlete at his high school, on the football team and the swim team. He was also in a mentoring program called “BAM” which stands for Becoming a Man. Through that program, he’d recently taken a trip to Washington D.C.

Andre was unafraid to try new things. He told the swim coach at his high school, “I don’t know how to swim, can you teach me?” She did, and he ended up on the team, and even helped him to get a job as a lifeguard. That coach also worked part-time as a police officer, and in an ironic twist of fate, was one of the responding officers when Andre was shot. She spoke at his funeral as well.

Andre’s mother, Sabrina, had died in a car accident several years ago, and his father is incarcerated. The teen lived with his grandfather Herold, Betty’s son, during the week, and with Betty on the weekends. Betty got custody of Andre and his two brothers after their mother’s death. 

His aunt, Kimberly Robinson, says she has called the police repeatedly to try to get them to investigate her nephew’s killing. She was told things like the investigating officer was on vacation, and would get back to her. “We want them to be caught and locked up,” she said of Andre’s killers. “I don’t think the police do a thorough job of investigating,” she said. “But the police, they’re scared as well.”

She doesn’t know why someone would shoot Andre, but notes, “they go after family members. His older brother is a little wild.” His great-grandmother believes the shooting was a case of mistaken identity.

Betty says her church family at Roseland has helped her through the tragedy. “They’ve been a family and friend to me at a time of need, a good support,” she says, both before and after Andre’s death. Harold Boyd, the youth minister at Roseland, would spend time with Andre and his brothers when they were younger. “He cared a lot for my boys, did a lot of things with them. He’s been a light in their lives.”