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Jamail Johnson's family is yearning for justice and closure

Published: Sun, January 29, 2012 @ 12:10 a.m.

By John W. Goodwin Jr.



  Jamail Johnson Remembered

One year after YSU student Jamail Johnson was killed, his mother remembers the impact his life and death had on the community.

One year after YSU student Jamail Johnson was killed, his mother remembers the impact his life and death had on the community.

Next week will mark one year since Youngstown State University senior Jamail Johnson was gunned down at a house party not far from campus.

His killing leaves his family to mourn and seek justice against the men charged with his murder.

It was Super Bowl Sunday on Feb. 6, 2011, when YSU students and a considerable number of nonstudents attended a party at a house on Indiana Avenue near campus. At some point, the party erupted into chaos with gunfire, fighting, screams and many partygoers running for safety.

When the smoke cleared, 11 people attending that party lay wounded and 25-year-old Johnson, a fraternity member who took time to tutor kids, was dead.

Police say Jamail was gunned down while trying to usher a group of partygoers away from the gunfire and out of harm’s way.

Since that time, Shirlene and Sidney Hill, Jamail’s mother and stepfather, say they have relied on the help and prayers of family, friends and the community.

“I have never gone through anything as difficult as I am going through now,” said Shirlene Hill. “The only way I am dealing with this is God. My faith is strong and I know I will see Jamail again.”

Sidney Hill said Thanksgiving and Christmas were difficult.

The Hills normally would decorate three Christmas trees in various parts of the family’s Liberty home. This year, there were no Christmas trees, and Shirlene Hill said she has yet to open any Christmas cards.

Youngstown police responded to the Feb. 6 shooting quickly. Within days, six men — Jamelle Jackson, 18; Brandon Carter, 22; Mark Jones, 20; his brother, Columbus Jones Jr., 22; Braylon Rogers, 19; and Demetrius Wright, 19 — were in custody charged with a list of crimes connected to the shooting. Rogers pleaded guilty to illegal possession of a firearm in a plea agreement with prosecutors Feb. 14 but has not been sentenced.

Shirlene Hill is happy to see the men suspected of killing her son in custody and awaiting trial but was disappointed when the first of the trials — for Columbus Jones scheduled for last Monday — was postponed for at least 30 days so the defense can hire a ballistics specialist.

“This is just ridiculous. I am a mother whose son was taken and I think I am going to get closure with this trial, and that is taken away because of ballistics,” she said. “I am Jamail’s voice, and I want justice to be served, and I am waiting for that day. That was my baby, and they did not have a right to take him.”

Prosecutor Paul J. Gains said he could not comment on the specifics of the case because it is set for trial.

“This is a true tragedy, and we will do all we can to make sure justice is done,” Gains said.

Columbus Jones and his four co-defendants have not avoided trial. All five defendants are scheduled for another pretrial hearing Feb. 26 before Judge John Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

The Hills plan to attend the February pretrial hearing and any other court hearings involving the case. The family has attended almost every hearing over the last year, and Shirlene Hill said it has been painful watching the defendants in court smiling, mouthing words and blowing kisses at family members.

Shirlene Hill said she knows nothing will bring Jamail back, but she wants to see justice done for his murder, whenever the defendants are brought to trial.

Justice for the Hills would be nothing short of a life sentence for all the men charged in the shooting.

“I don’t want them to ever walk on these streets again. I see no remorse here,” she said. “I don’t ever want another mother to go through what I have gone through.”


1db(280 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

I don't get it with this glorification of Jamail Johnson. He was a 25 year old adult hosting all-night off-campus parties frequented by underage kids. Alcohol was being provided and it would be naive to deny drug use. As the adult home owner & host, he was breaking the law yet after fighting with several juvenile party attendees and they return to shoot 11 people & kill him; he is glorified as the patron saint of YSU and the black community. Hosting all-night parties that provide alcohol to juveniles is illegal and wrong. The scumbags who shot him are wrong. There are no heroes here.

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2Lifes2Short(3879 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

"The family has attended almost every hearing over the last year, and Shirlene Hill said it has been painful watching the defendants in court smiling, mouthing words and blowing kisses at family members."

Because they are nothing but disgusting, low life, pitiful little cockroaches that need to be exterminated. And the sad part is their still alive with their pitiful excuse of existence
on this planet. These animals are the ones that should be six feet under.

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3mauzy006(14 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

@db @commoncitizen just because I know my parents are probably reading this I wont call you the the inbread white hill billy trailor trash that you are, oops too late! Once again two A** holes from the other side of the tracks just voicing there holocaustal opinions n quite frankly I'm sick of it all you do sit behind a computer screen and disrespect people without thinking about the perfect life you and your meth smoking wife beating child molesting friends and family live with either stop using you IP address as your security and be a man put a face with that name and come to my family with you problems and concerns or contine to be a Coward and Blog annonomously punk! I bet my LIFE you u wont be a real man and u choose to continue to BLOG, P***Ys!

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4kensgirl(840 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Let's hope these little thugs go to prison for a long time. They killed him in cold blood - no remorse. Now let the inmates show them what real life is about in prison. I bet we won't see smirks and laughs when they get theirs.

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5db(280 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

Wow Mauzy, you must miss those late night juvenile beer busts at Jamail's house an awful lot. I won't call you an ignorant negro racist for not wondering where the outcry is for the elderly white couple shot & killed going home from church when the south side black gang members mistook their car for another or for not wondering where the elderly Feminari woman's justice is for being shot in the head & killed by a black south side scumbag while sitting in the church parking lot; both crimes perpetrated upon totally innocent elderly people in that same time period. Wake up black jackass; the black community needs to stop glorifying the thug life and start parenting & policing their own. Let's hear your reply fool; defend the beer busts for juvies hosted by a 25 year old adult.

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6db(280 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

vidi, large out-of-control all-night parties held off campus at an adult's home should not be places for underage drinking by local kids. That is against the law and against common sense. The shooters were not college students; they were underage high school kids. Jamail was illegally hosting and providing alcohol to these kids that later came back to shoot 11 people and him. These parties were held frequently by Jamail and were a known spot to get loaded by kids. If this was done in the suburbs, the homeowner would have been put in jail.
I don't recall seeing any flags flown at half staff for Mrs. Feminari. No governor visits for the Repchic couple. No state police media reports. No front page Vindy stories a year after for either. They are simply forgotten and their total innocence ignored. Idiots like mauzy play their tired race card; they want to glorify Jamail who unfortunately is guilty of contributory negligence. Jamail may have been a good person & a nice guy but he contributed to his demise and to the shooting of eleven others.

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7nb(1 comment)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

@db I try not to judge people like you have obviously done here without knowing anything about this young man, but I'm going to make an exception here. You are a despicable human being. I don't know Jamail personally, but I am assuming his story has been so highly publicized because he was an upstanding, well-liked guy. Additionally, it seems that his mother wishes to make her story known as she is obviously suffering through an incredibly difficult time. I think it is important to acknowledge that none of us are perfect, well except for you and your children of course. I know I attended my fair share of underage parties in high school and college. To claim that throwing underage parties undermines the devastation of a young kid being murdered is insane. You are disgusting. I think your daughter is going to be the one who misses these late night parties. One less place for her to sleep around. Also, to blame Jamail for the demise of these individuals is delusional.

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8mauzy006(14 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

@ db like I said before put a face with that name and come sit down and tell my family how you really feel ok? Doubt it! Continue using the Internet as your bodyguard and disrespecting peoples loved ones I'm soo sick of your kind you nothing but a big mouth big headed jack ass be a man for once in your life as you can see people get killed for less everyday understood? With that being said have a nice day P***y!

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9YoungnGifted(8 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

@db Here we go again. People like you that know NOTHING but speak on EVERYTHING!! To think, folks thought we have overcome. No we have not overcome. Rasicm is clearly still alive, only now you can hide your ignorant thoughts comfortably behind your computer screen. Get a life!!! You clearly dont know this young man, nor the situation that you so "intelligently" speak of. It wasnt even HIS party. He and his frat brothers allowed thier fraternity house to be used for another college party. You know how I know that, because, unlike you I KNOW HIM! But clearly that's neither here nor there. It was a college party, and 99.9% of those there were either in college or 18 and over (which is college age dummy) a 17 was able to get in undetected. Maybe becaue she was a guest or maybe she had someones ID who knows, but IDs are certainly checked at the door! Who said anything about drinking...have you read the papers, police said that there was no signs of students being drunk or drinking at the party! SMH idiots get on the computer and let thier little fingers type a foot right up thier ignorant tails. Now, I would be wrong if I started talking about the little secret partys that middle americans have and all the "illegal" stuff that goes on there, wouldn't I? Yes because I'm not in middle America so I don't know what you do at your little functions! Jamail is a Hero; in every sense of the word! He sacrificed his time for students in inner city school, was awarded the honor of Omega Man of the Year for his outstanding service to his community and he made the ultimate sacrifice of his life for the safety of others. HERO! And that's why his name is and will continue to be recognized. You want to know why I know that, because unlike you, I KNOW HIM! You need to stop being educated about our community and people by what you see on TV. You might actually learn something.

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10bsafeandproud(46 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

One year later, and this tragedy is still alive and well in the community's hearts and minds. My condolences to Jamail's family and friends, the media profiles show he was a well-liked individual with a bright future.

Plain and simple, Jamail was by choice in the wrong place at the wrong time. As a role model to young students, he had NO BUSINESS in a dangerous situation outside the door at 1am on the crime-ridden North Side hosting and promoting a frat-house alcohol drinking party. Legal or underage, large consumption of alcohol has always been a true scourge to our society and draws in the criminals and violence and revenge. May we all learn from this tragic murder and STAY HOME from dangerous, late-night venues! RIP Jamail.

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11BeedWhit571(2 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

it really bothers me that people comment without knowing facts.
Fact# 1He was not hosting any party
he stopped by his Frat house shortly before this happened
Fact#2 there was no alcohol at the party
the police cleared that up a year ago
Fact#3 He did not live there
Fact#4 Jamail in no way contributed to this outcome only that his presence there that night saved many lives
Fact#5 We his Family never want anyone to think we don't empathize or sympathize with any Family that has lost a Love One but understand our PAIN is 1st and Foremost about JAMAIL JOHNSON he was An AWESOME UPSTANDING YOUNG MAN BOTTOM LINE.... Sorry if you didn't know him.... You Really Missed Out.... God Bless You and Yours.....

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12db(280 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

mauzy, we all know that you are a tough guy; your personal attacks speak legions about what a big man you are. Hell, you may even be tough enough to shoot elderly white people in the church parking lot. I laugh at jerkoffs like you. Big mouth, low-IQ, the-world-owes-me losers. Jamail may have been a good guy but the house was owned by him, underage alcohol consumption was involved, and he hosted the party. He screwed up; it cost him his life, 11 others gunshot injuries, YSU a black eye, Youngstown another bad news report, and the taxpayers many thousands of dollars.
BTW, my last name is Clark; I am in the phone book; stop on by and maybe I can help with your attitude issues.

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13BeedWhit571(2 comments)posted 3 years, 7 months ago

wrong again the house was not owned by him. that was the frat house he lived somewhere else entirely. he use to live there but no longer. where are you peope getting your info and he did not host that party if you don't know stop talking about stuff you dont know please its just not right cause there are people who do believe what they read.

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14YoungnGifted(8 comments)posted 3 years, 6 months ago

Exactly! Surely was NOT his house, surely was NOT serving alcohol, surely was NOT hosting to the UNDERAGE Mr. Clark...hmm that's a real common last name. Get your facts straight and get a life man seriously.

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