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BBQ benefits mother of slain student

First Coast High School football player gunned down at after-prom party

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A barbecue Friday organized by family and friends of the 17-year-old shot and killed at an after-prom party Saturday night is one of several efforts showing support for the boy's mother.

The $10-a-plate lunch ran until 2 p.m., and all proceeds will help the family of Johnnel Johnnson (pictured below).

"The last time I saw him, I saw him at the barber shop, and he hit me with that award-winning smile," said Doug Garnigand, who organized the barbecue. "I'm just going to remember that." 

Johnnel Johnson
Johnnel Johnson

The barbecue was held at the TWIC Escort Service at 10418 New Berlin Road. One of Johnson's family members works at the company, which provides security to Jacksonville ports and associated businesses, and co-workers are supporting the effort.

"It is such a tragedy that these young men are dying out in the streets, and we need to make more people aware of what's going on," said Andre Williamson. "This just just a little fundraiser to help the family out in their time of need."

Organizers raked in several hundred dollars in just a few hours, serving chicken, burgers, hot dogs and barbecue ribs.

Johnson was a standout football player at First Coast High School. Police said there were dozens of witnesses to the shooting at a party in Arlington, but they have not made an arrest or named a suspect.

Garnigand said it's hard to believe someone would kill the football star, but rather than sit still in this time of grief, he decided to cook to provide the family comfort.

"I just think financially, no one is prepared for that, the loss of a 17-year-old," Garnigand said. "I don't know the financial situation, but this might help a little bit."

Some who came out to support the barbecue knew Johnson personally, but others did not, saying they just understand the heartache of losing a child.

"I've been through the same thing," Willie Johnson said. "I lost a nephew just last November, so everybody needs some support, you know."

A viewing for Johnson is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. Funeral arrangements have not been announced. 


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