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YSU students describe post-shooting campus as 'dim'

Published: Tue, February 8, 2011 @ 12:01 a.m.


Jamail E. Johnson, 25, of Youngstown, was killed during a shooting that injured 11 others early Sunday at 55 Indiana Ave. near YSU.

A prayer vigil will be at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Union Baptist

Church, Lincoln Avenue, Youngstown. The Rev. Michael Harrison said the vigil is to not only allow YSU students and the community to begin to heal, but also to “change the mentality among our young people so they can understand the preciousness of human life.”

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By Denise Dick



Youngstown State University students describe the mood on campus as dim after shootings that killed one student and left several others injured.

“Everybody is really, really angry,” said Dezmond Riley, 21, of Liberty, who is studying art. “It’s just very dim around here.”

People are angry that innocent people were injured or killed because of someone else’s stupid act, he said.

Both he and Stephen Rada, 21, of Girard, a business-management major, knew one of the victims, Jordon Wagner, 20, who was shot several times.

“He never did anything to anybody, and he gets shot six times,” Riley said.

The Sunday morning shootings at an off-campus, after-hours party left YSU senior Jamail Johnson dead.

“People just wanted to get together at a party and have a good time, and all of a sudden someone with a gun has to ruin it,” Riley said.

Rada said he doesn’t feel unsafe on campus, but the idea that the incident happened so close to where he goes to school is scary.

Ralph Rich, 23, of Hubbard, an English literature major, said that even though the shooting occurred off campus, it’s something that has affected students and the campus.

When Rich arrived Monday, he saw a maintenance employee lowering one of the flags to half-staff in memory of the student who died.

It recalls thoughts of shootings at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech, he said, and even though he wouldn’t put this in the same category as those tragedies, it’s something students likely will remember for many years, Rich said.

Tyler Thompson, a criminal-justice major, and Tejohn Lawrence, a multi-media major, and both 19 and freshmen from Youngstown, arrived at the party to pick up a friend who was attending.

At first it was calm, with everyone just having fun.

“I saw the fight, but I didn’t see who was fighting,” Lawrence said.

Shortly after their arrival, gunmen fired into the open doorway of the Indiana Avenue house.

“People started to go to the floor,” Lawrence said. “It was like a domino effect.”

Lawrence had been shot in the foot and Thompson in the thigh.

“I didn’t know I had been shot,” Thompson said.

When the shooting stopped, the two young men ran out the back door and to their car. Thompson drove Lawrence to the hospital but didn’t realize his own injury until Lawrence pointed it out to him.

It was a frightening night, they said.

“I didn’t sleep,” Thompson said.

The two sat Monday morning surrounded by friends in the Lariccia Family Student Lounge inside Kilcawley Center on campus, Lawrence’s crutches leaning against a couch.

One of those friends was sophomore Julius Thomas, 21, of Youngstown, also a criminal-justice major. He said incidents such as the one Sunday are the reason he doesn’t go to parties.

“You can’t even really go out in the clubs and hang out with your friends,” Thomas said.

Bishop George V. Murry of the Diocese of Youngstown expressed his sympathies for the victims and their families.

“On behalf of the Catholic Community of the Diocese of Youngstown, my deepest sympathies and prayers go out to the family and friends of Jamail Johnson, 25, who died from gunshot wounds while trying to help quiet a dispute, for those injured, and to all those who were affected by such an act of violence.

“The violent loss of life is a reminder to all of us that disputes and disagreements should not be handled through the use of weapons,” Bishop Murry said in a statement. “Tragedies such as this cause us to pause to reflect upon the sacredness and dignity of life. Not only has a family lost a young man through this incident, but our community has been marred by an increase in deadly violence.

“I ask that as we pour out our prayers for the victims of this shooting, let us also pray that men and women of good will work together to build a community based on peaceful resolution of disputes and work to reduce violence in our neighborhoods.”

A prayer service by the Office of Student Diversity on Monday afternoon in Kilcawley’s Chestnut Room honored Johnson’s memory.

A poster with photographs of the young man stood in the entrance and members of one of the sororities on campus were collecting donations for Johnson’s family.

Sophomore Adrian Watson of Cleveland, an English major, wrote a poem, “The Dedicatiqn,” in memory of his friend. The Q in the title represents Johnson’s fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, whose members call themselves the Que Dawgs, he said.

Watson wiped away tears and broke down a few times while reading the poem that spoke of his friend’s warm disposition and easy smile.

He said he often went to parties at the house where the shootings occurred but opted to stay in and study early Sunday. Reports that Johnson died while trying to usher others away from the gunfire came as no surprise to Watson.

“He was a brave dude,” he said.

Junior Marteece Waters, 23, of Akron, a finance major, said Johnson was well-liked, nonconfrontational and a gentleman.

“He was not a ‘guy in the street,’” Waters said.

He said those who knew Johnson are doing their best to cope with the tragedy.

Freshman Isaiah Lee, 19, of Cleveland, a religious-studies major, is one of those friends. He led those attending the prayer service in a rendition of “Let Go, Let God.”

Lee was staying at the Indiana Avenue house and was asleep upstairs when the shooting happened. His girlfriend ran upstairs to wake him.

“At first I was scared to go downstairs, but then I said, ‘Let me go and make sure everyone is all right,’” he said.

Lee saw blood all over the house and a man, who wasn’t moving, lying on the floor. He couldn’t see his face at first.

“I was praying, ‘God, please don’t let that be who I think it is,’” Lee said.

He saw one of the fraternity brothers outside crying and another throwing angry punches in the air. Then Lee saw that the person on the floor was Johnson, his good friend.

“At that time, he was alive,” Lee said.

He wasn’t talking, but Johnson was calm, Lee said. As emergency crews tended to Johnson, Lee went outside to check on others who had been in the house.

“Then someone came out and said, ‘He’s dead, he’s dead, he’s dead,’” he said.

He went back into the house, saw his dead friend and lost it.

“Everything in me just came out,” he said. “I was wailing.”


1TommyJones3rdtd(1 comment)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

What i cant believe is that i saw a once great amateur boxer (i really mean a super star in the amateurs, and a good kid at that...he turned pro and had a nice pace to go 10-0 as pro then he fell off,lost like 2 or 3 in a row and never heard from him again, not like his uncle the flea, a former world champ from youngstown...well i kinda get the feeling why durrell richardson name was not in boxing world no-more??? he is to busy at party's being 31 years old) with 17-20yr olds at 4am in the morning??? but cant really blame him i guess(there is nothing to do in youngstown no-more) when u put bars on every corner and bars on campus of ysu like always been) then what do u expect to happen??? youngstown been the same 20years ago and will never get better(sorry its the truth) how many families are still looking for the killers of there sons or daughters????? its ashame that churches or more ymca cant be built instead of bars liquer stores!! oh well( durrell hope u r ok and hope to hear about u in the ring again not in the streets

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2speakup(5 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

There is plenty to do in Youngstown and its surrounding area. Every city has bars and alcohol available near community college campuses. There are countless churches available and a YMCA right downtown. Involvement in crime, drugs, alcohol and violence is a personal choice, not the fault of the City of Youngstown, it's police department, the University or its security. Accept responsibility for your actions and stop blaming everyone and everything around you. Thousands attend YSU, in downtown Youngstown including my own children, and have wonderful college experiences, graduate and make a life for themselves - it's all a choice.

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3Morrigan(83 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

RIP Jamail. My sympathies to his loved ones.

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4Real4Ever(1 comment)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Speakup, you are so right! So many people are so quick to judge or blame everyone else and talk about how bad Youngstown is but it seems like those are the same people that can't even formulate a complete sentence! My prayers goes to all those young kids.

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5retiredsoldier(6 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Headlines Shooting in Youngstown Youngstown State University. Two black Braylon Rogers, 19, “Death before dishonor” Columbus Jones Jr., 22, “RIP” on one fist Charged with aggravated murder, felonious assault discharging a firearm Who are these guys a brother, son, father, and someone’s friend I guess? Rest assure that these guys are going to jail. What is it going to take for our people to see and realize that killing is not the answer? It is funny because these kids now a day have no respect for themselves, their parents or themselves. Who is the role model are you looking at? Parents what are you teaching your children? Parents it is not hard, if you do right your kids will sure to follow. Kids don’t come with instructions but there have been instructions written since time immemorial. I am retired same age as these kids parents there are no jobs in Ohio but your parent say don’t join the Military ask someone that has been there or someone that is there right now from your hometown. How can you tell or deter your child just arriving home from jail yourself. I don’t worry about credit, I have good credit. I don’t worry about a job, I am retired will receive a check in the mail for the rest of my life, o by the way i also have a job also. I don’t worry about medical insurance I receive medical care through my VA and my family receives health care through a medical program I earned over the years I did my time. I don’t worry about something for my kid to do i have MWR they have scheduled trips and activities everyday of the week. Isn’t it these things that they kill for; the bottom line to all I have mentioned is money. Parents teach your kids to earn their own. Take the lead do something, but dam I forgot you can’t get in if you have all those felonies. So why mess up your kid’s chance. “God” he heals all wounds. WHAT happen that night when hurt physically when you were asked to leave, or were you hurt mentally. Hurt physically put a Band-Aid on it hurt mentally, stop and think why, for every action there is a reaction. You later went on to killed a man and injure others. Your action will probable cause you to die. In your next house the 8x8 that is where you will grow old and in essance be forgotten. No one could really do anything for you. You will never be able to have a birthday cake or celebrate Christmas with family members, your kids are going to end up calling someone else daddy and your parents will get old and grey worrying about the stupid mistakes you made. O’yea your hommies don’t forget about them you night hear from one or two them for a minute then they will die off also where with you or they may meet their fate if they are following in your path. But you will have new family member in prison. Man you kids cut your lives so short; and what are your parents thinking or doing right now? What your are being raised by a single mom dad is already in jail? We have a problem in our neighborhoods and we need to fix it.

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6Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Life goes on and things will be back to normal soon . The law enforcement sweeps will be but a speck in time and all will be cool again . What will be learned from this killing ? Same as all the others, nothing ? The freedom of the lawless to kill must be abridged !

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7redvert(2240 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

As retiredsoldier stated, It all goes back to the parents. Your kids learn from the example you set whether you realize it or not. If you exhibit criminal behavior they will learn from that. If you chose to be a welfare case they will find that acceptable. If you are a absent parent they will see that as acceptable, etc. etc. etc.

Remember, "When nothing changes, nothing changes"

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8computer_rick(137 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago


Waiting for the comments on this thread that state "uhhh, crime is everywhere..." and my favorite "things are just as bad in the suburbs!"

Ha! Y-Town is a dump. The number two read story on the Wall Street Journal's on line edition yesterday ( www.wsj.com ) was "one killed, eleven wounded" etc...

On www.Forbes.com Youngstown is ranked as "the 14th most unliveable city in the Country".

Nope, I no longer live in Y-town. Yes, I used to. In one of the "prime" neighborhoods favored by police and city employees. And my next door neighbor was taken away on a murder and drug charge. Took the police over a year from the time he moved in, until the time he was finally charged and taken away. Yeah, I loved that...

Big difference between criminals in Y-town and crime in the 'burbs. Murder. Death. Blood.

Really, I loved Y-Town, and really loved living in a home that four miles in a straight line, would have been worth ten times what it was worth in Y-Town. But, could not take it anymore. The neighbors really did call the police each and every time there was an issue. And the police really did show up. It's just that, there was a never ending supply of "gangsta-hoods" who are to lazy to actually get a job to make something of themselves.

Don't give me any crap about how there are no jobs. Are you young? Urban? Can you read and write passably? Join the military. Go apply for one of the many grants that are afforded people of your type. Yes, I just said that. I made it out. All on my own. Would have loved to have been able to go to school all bought and paid for, just because of who I was.

Funny thing. Was watching Judge Joe Brown on TV the other day. Very few folks know, he lived in Youngstown for awhile way back. He was trying some young punk who had robbed his Mom, and his Grandma. And they were from Youngstown. Said it right on the show. Judge Joe Brown gave that kid serious attitude, but what I said in my little diatribe above, was nothing compared to what Judge Joe told this punk. Basically told him, and the punks Mom and Grandma that the kid was on the fast track for jail, and he would make a nice girlfriend for someone when he got there.

So, you apologists for Youngstowns young criminal element, keep on yapping. The other difference between crime in Y-Town and the suburbs? Eventually, the kid from the suburbs gets a clue, and gets a job. That punk from the hood, ends up in Marion. With a tube of chapstick.

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9computer_rick(137 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

My heart does break that the kids who were trying to better themselves, were gunned down by these pieces of trash.

Now, how much is it going to cost to convict these two? Just plea it down to a life without parole. Save us all the money and aggravation of blowing your budget on a death penalty case.

I said plea it down to life without parole, by the way, not five to twelve for manslaughter. Don't plea it down because they did not mean to kill that guy. They just wanted to wound him like the other eleven folks.

Oh, and to Mom and Dad (whomever that may be) good work! I am sure we have the follow up interview with the Auntie to look forward to, about how "he was really a nice boy, he never hurt anyone..."

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10Houndwalker87(2 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

I am so upset and sad by this event. Why did someone have to die over something so stupid and small?
I hate that the news keeps saying this was at a fraternity house. It was not a fraternity house. Some fraternity members just live there together. It was NOT on YSU's campus! That is why there was not security there.
Becuase of Ignorant people tragedies like this are happening everywhere not just in youngstown. For example, the student who died at Kent State University walking to a fraternity party, or just recently someone got held up at gun point in the parking lot at Kent State. NOT JUST YSU! Not to mention another beating that happened outside of an Akron bar that is near Akron U. Just this fall Slippery Rock had 6 Rapes. These are horrible events but they happen everywhere.
Youngstown State is one of the safest university's in Ohio. They offer GREAT police staff and security.

Lastly, being in Youngstown State's Greek life is unexplainable. You will never understand the closeness of the small but strong family of the greeks. I think that all of the chapters feel sad and angry.....but we all have eachothers back in the end. All my love goes out to the QUE's, friends and family who have to suffer this loss.
YSU is my family, when my family is hurting I'm hurting.

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11nojimbo(286 comments)posted 5 years, 5 months ago

Very strange video on this site with student who was shot in the foot. It's on the front page right now.

In the video, the young man who was shot about 48 hours ago and incredibly lucky to be alive, smiles and tries not to laugh while answering questions from the very serious Vindicator reporter.

It's just odd. Like the whole thing was a big joke to him.

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