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Brother: Jamail 'was an angel on Earth’

Published: Sun, February 13, 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.

  Jamail Johnson funeral service




Combine selflessness, peacefulness, compassion, love and diligence with being a beloved role model and leader, and you will have the essence of 25-year-old Jamail E. Johnson, many who knew him say.

That’s a large part of what defined Johnson and how they feel he should be remembered.

It also reflects a treasured legacy Johnson left that was captured by those who attended Saturday’s Celebration of Life ceremony in Youngstown State University’s Beeghly Center.

An estimated 1,800 family, friends, co-workers, elected officials, clergy members, fraternity brothers and others attended the program to remember and honor Johnson, a YSU senior and 2003 Liberty High School graduate who was shot to death last Sunday during an off-campus party at an Indiana Avenue home used by YSU fraternity members.

Eleven people were injured, including Shavai Owens, 17, a Boardman High School student who was critically injured by a gunshot to her head.

Charged with aggravated murder, 11 felonious-assault counts and improperly discharging a firearm into a habitation are Braylon Rogers, 19, of East Lucius Avenue, and 22-year-old Columbus E. Jones Jr. of Cambridge Avenue.

Jamelle Jackson, 18, of West Boston Avenue, and Demetrius Wright, 20, of West Avondale Avenue, face felony charges of carrying a concealed weapon and tampering with evidence, respectively, in the killing.

Johnson, who was born in Stratford, N.J., transferred to YSU from Ashland University, majored in business management and worked at YSU as a tutor.

He was a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., worked in retail sales at Foot Locker in Southern Park Mall in Boardman and mentored students at Woodrow Wilson Middle School.

He also was a member of Higher Praise Covenant Church, where he served as an usher and on the Youth Ministry Team.

Many mourners cried when Johnson’s brother Bruce Alexander spoke about several good times the two had shared. Alexander recalled that when he played football, Johnson made it known how proud he was of Alexander.

Alexander also remembered a conversation in which Johnson expressed a desire to be famous and do great things.

“He was as close to perfect as you can get. He was an angel on Earth,” Alexander concluded.

Johnson’s life was cut tragically short, but his 25 years were spent loving, caring for and mentoring others, said Roger Fort, an uncle.

“Jamail was a humble and kind man; his love and affection was endless,” Fort said, fighting back tears. “When Jamail gave his life, the character of the man burst forth in victory.”

Also struggling to speak at times was another uncle, Mike Cobb, who urged the audience to take more seriously how they treat others, in part by taking time to listen to someone who‘s hurting.

Lynn Johnson, an aunt, quoted the biblical verse Matthew 5:43, which talks about the importance of loving and praying for one’s enemies.

“We are here to celebrate the life of a peacemaker. Let the peacemaking legacy of Jamail Johnson resonate through the Mahoning Valley, this country and the world,” said Mayor Jay Williams, who implored attendees to commit themselves to maintaining Johnson’s legacy of peace and reaching out to others.

Another poignant moment was a standing ovation offered when YSU President Dr. Cynthia Anderson presented a diploma cover to Johnson’s family.

During the university’s spring commencement ceremony in May, Johnson’s official bachelor’s degree in business administration will be conferred to him posthumously, Anderson said.

“Please know how very proud of Jamail Johnson we are,” she added.

Brenda Spencer of Youngstown knew Johnson only casually because he occasionally attended her church, New Bethel Baptist, on the city’s South Side. Nevertheless, she was aware of how he positively impacted others, especially youngsters.

“The community lost a great leader and role model. His life touched so many people,” she said.

One of those young people was Jerrell Shorter, a Wilson Middle School eighth-grader who read a letter he had written two days after Johnson’s death.

The letter, published in The Vindicator on Thursday, details how Johnson had helped Jerrell with his math, encouraged him to be a leader and urged him to study and avoid negative influences.

It is hoped Johnson’s example will open others’ eyes to try to counteract many negative forces in the world, said Rachelle Shelton of Youngstown, a family friend.

The service nicely captured Johnson’s character and personality, Shelton said, adding that his family is getting by.

The ceremony also included remarks from the Rev. Solomon Hill, pastor of Centenary United Methodist Church in Youngstown, as well as more biblical readings from the New and Old Testaments.

Musical selections were “His Eye is on the Sparrow,” “He’ll be Remembered,” and a selection titled “Jamail.”

L.E. Black & Phillips Funeral Home handled the arrangements for Johnson, who was interred at Tod Cemetery on the city’s North Side.


1TheStanFan(2 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

My condolences and sympathy to the family. What a shame...

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2Boomer(17 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Indeed, what a tragic loss.

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3luvlove(9 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

One can't think of anything but terrorism when you think of what those terrorist did.

It was a cowardly act of vengence to murder someone over something so senseless.

My heart and prayers go out to the family and friends of the victims of this terrorist act.

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4MLC75(660 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

My prayers go out to the family and friends for the loss of your loved one.It sounds like Jamail was a wonderful young man.My GOD heal your broken heart,PSALM 34:18.

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5Stan(9923 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

The slaughter of the productive needs to be brought to a close and the killers don't need a second chance to kill again . Moral society demands closure and no plea bargaining to lessen the guilt of the killers .

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6Houndwalker87(2 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

Even though I did not know Jamail on a personal level I attended the memorial service. That day I felt like I lost my own brother.Then I realized that here at YSU we are family and that I did lose a brother. He has one of the strongest families I have ever seen. This was a sad day to say the least.

"If it wasn't for him, we would have 12 caskets in that room"

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7sabrinadjones(3 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

HarryMuffin, That was my cousin that had gotten killed and I am sorry if someone in your family has lost thier life, However to minimize the life of one for another was exactly the mine set of those that had taken the lives of my cousin or our fellow servicemen... On that particular night, Jamail didn't enlist in a fraternity that he knew there maybe a situation that his life would have to be taken in efforts to save others... He did this in the heat of the moment... Servicemen sign up for these duties and are dedicated and have the upmost respect from the world for doing so... Can my baby cousin please get his appreciation without all the negative comments.. Are we so concerned about the levels of a flag on a pole rather than the level of mentality our young men and terrorist...

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8redvert(2239 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

sabrina, I did not know your cousin but I think the rest of the young people at that party showed what your cousin meant to them. What I mean by this is that there has been a practice in some parts of the black community of "no snitch." That did not work with these young people, the shooters were identified quickly. Maybe these young people will initiate a change in the way the community thinks. If so, your family can at least know that Jamial did not die completely in vain.

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9madhatter0720(6 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

I worked with Jamail for a few months over the winter. Every night I go to bed shedding a tear for his family and what a wonderful person we lost when he was killed. I hope that a scholarship will be started in his honor. If anyone in his family reads this, I just want them to know if my son turns out to be the man he was, I will be beyond blessed!

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10UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

God bless our service men and women who put their life on the line every day in Afghanistan & Iraq for our freedom. They are the true heros who we do not honor enough!

HarryMuffin- you are so so right.

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11mcluvin(72 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

I agree with UnionForever also. Flying the Colors at half mast is not something that should be done casually.This is not ment to disrespect the tragedy that occured or the memory of this young man, but rather to point out the amount of repect due to our nations Colors.

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12roototheque(6 comments)posted 5 years, 4 months ago

HarryMuffin and UnionForever, you both are idiots...

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