Quintuple Murder Case Unsolved And Under The Radar
Even violence as horrific as this can fade quickly from view, replaced by the next crime carnage. This quintuple homicide held the spotlight little more than a day. That's added to the agony of relatives, including Jalonte Johnson, a soft-spoken 24-year old. He lost a brother, JaRio and his mother, Sherita Johnson, in that East 92nd Street shooting. He wants people to remember.
JALONTE JOHNSON: "She was 41. She was 28-weeks pregnant and my brother, he was 18. The 60-year old guy, his name is Lemon Bryant. That was my youngest brother's father. And Shaylona Williams, she was a friend of my brother's. So that's four people, five including the baby that was killed on November 21st. And my sister, she was also shot but she survived."
The 9-year old sister walked in on the shooter; bullets flew; one grazed her chest and she ran. Three people were already dead in the house. The masked gunman then turned his aim on the mother outside in her car. Two bullets struck her. A two-year old infant in the backseat was unharmed.
JOHNSON: "Nobody seen this coming. Nobody in my family ever been killed. And I honestly can say publicly there is nothing my family has done, nothing my brother has done. And I'm not just saying this because he was my brother, but he was super, super quiet, super, super nice."
They were all such unlikely targets, Johnson can imagine only one explanation for what looks to him like an execution. The shooter came to the wrong house.
JOHNSON: "i just don't believe it was supposed to be that house. Whatever the target was or anything I don't believe it was meant to be there."
Police have no comment on that theory. They've canvassed the neighborhood several times looking for clues and witnesses. A trickle of leads have flowed in from tip lines but three months after the shooting there's no further description of the masked gunman, no suspects identified, no indication of a motive. The department says detectives are still working the case.
Jalonte Johnson organized a march through the neighborhood on New Year's Day, encouraging residents to help the police solve the crime. Only a few dozen people turned out - a stark contrast to the outpouring of concern over the Tamir Rice shooting by a white police officer.
Cleveland's Yvonne Pointer, a nationally known anti-violence activist, knows well the frustration of faded interest by others. She waited 30 years for the man who raped and killed her teenage daughter on her way to school to be identified and arrested. Porter dedicated her life to keeping the case in the public eye and helping other homicide families deal with their grief and anger.
YVONNE POINTER: "I couldn't believe that as a society no one was as alarmed as I was that there was a killer walking around on the street. Wouldn't everyone want to know who that person is?"
No matter where you live, Pointer says, nothing ever prepares you for the aftermath of homicide.
POINTER: "It's like being thrown off a cliff and on the way down you're trying to develop a plan for how not to splatter."
In her new book, Ghettoside, L.A. Times Homicide Reporter Jill Leovy says for families it's "a kind of living death. Survivors slog on, diminished, disfigured by loss and incomprehension."
Jalonte Johnson says "it all still feels like a dream.. No one deserves this. I didn't. My Mom didn't."
He worries about his 9 year old sister.
JOHNSON: "She's at that age where she will remember. You know, sitting in that car with mom till the ambulance came, with mom deceased in the front seat. I can only imagine what pictures popping up in her head daily or thoughts."
Johnson says he tries to stay positive and "pray until something happens." He pleads for anyone with information about the shooting to contact the Cleveland Police homicide unit, call crime tip-line, even if its anonymously. "Anyone who knows something and doesn't talk is as guilty as the one" who pulled the trigger.