Chattanooga gang leader remembered as a gifted young man - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanooga gang leader remembered as a gifted young man

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Friday marked the city's first two homicides of the year, and one of the victims had a well documented criminal past. 

Jumoke Johnson Jr., 23, was killed in a shooting that ended with a car crash in East Chattanooga Friday night. 

READ MORE | UPDATE: Two victims identified in E.12th Street shooting

Twenty-year-old Christopher Woodward was also killed.

Woodard was out of jail on bond for robbery charges. 

Woodard and Johnson were dead by the time police arrived. 

Despite Johnson's criminal record, some people who knew him say he was a gifted young man with a promising future, including Olivet Baptist Church pastor Kevin Adams, who tried to help Johnson turn his life around.

Adams said he first met Johnson in 2012 during his senior year at Brainerd high School.

"I was impressed by him. One of the smartest young men I've ever had the opportunity to meet. So much potential. So many possibilities there, and when I say a leader; he had so much influence over everyone," Adams said. 

That summer, Adams offered Johnson a job at his church as an opportunity for him to leave behind a past of crime and ties to gang life. 

"He would learn the administration aspects of the church then he would counsel and work with some of the young people and he was excellent. Imean they would listen to him and he made a great impact," Adams said. "I saw him fighting hard you know to live and to get beyond some of those obstacles."

Adams said by the end of that summer, Johnson was heading for college at Miles College in Alabama, thanks to an anonymous donor who offered to pay his tuition. 

After one semester, Johnson was kicked out of school and returned to Chattanooga's streets. 
    
In 2013, Johnson was arrested during a drug sting along with 30 other men. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to a single drug charge and was sentenced to 65 months (more than 5 years) in prison. 

Read more from our news partner the Times Free Press. 

"I just often wondered what would have been because I just think that he had it all. The gifts, the talent, the drive, the ability to just do some powerful things with his life," said Adams. 

On January 12, nearly a week before Johnson died, he escaped from a federal halfway house on McCallie Ave. and cut off his GPS tracking monitor.

A violent ending to a life pastor Adams said was once filled with promise, and one he wants to prevent from happening to other young men in the city. 

"I think the graveyard is the richest place in the world TODAY, NOT THE BANKs but the graveyard because it's filled with so much potential, so much talent, so much gifting that we're taking and depositing in the ground," Adams said. 

And depsite how one chooses to live live, Adams said the community should focus on the good. 

"You can't kill a person anymore than they already are dead so killing you know their reputation and killing their name doesn't solve anything."

Pastor Adams said Johnson's family is still making arrangements for his funeral. 
    
Police have not yet identified who is responsible for the shooting. If you have any information, call police. 

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