A 24-year-old Ripley man with sickle cell disease was killed on Gabrielle Street Thursday night. According to neighbors and family members, gunshots rang out around 11:30p.m. They discovered Courtney Johnson's body hours later on Friday morning, several doors down from his home.
Both police and the DA's office are staying tight lipped about the case. Family members say they last saw Johnson when he left his home around 11pm. That's about a half hour before people in the neighborhood heard shots nearby. Johnson's mother expected him to pick her up from work this morning but became alarmed when he didn't show up.
"Got a body in the yard, what," said Terry McWilliams, who made the 911 call.
While police won't confirm the shooting or the homicide, McWilliams says he heard gun shots late Thursday night. Johnson was found on the side of one of his aunt's house, close to McWilliam's home.
"I don't know if he was running, trying to get in her (the aunt's) house or what," said Martha Robertson, one of victim's aunts.
Robertson says her sister who lives at the home, heard gun shots as well.
"She thought it was just a random shooting, she didn't know it was right there next to her window, cause she said had she known that she would've got up she feelin bad she didn't get up and look," said Robertson.
Johnson battled sickle cell disease, and helped care for his mother. Family members became worried after he didn't pick up his mother from work Friday morning, or answer his phone.
"Not drug related, because Courtney Johnson was not affiliated with any drugs, or guns, or gangs, or none of that," said Brenda Sullivan, Johnson's cousin.
"I'm just hoping they find the person or persons that did it, that's what I'm hoping, cause they didn't have to do that to him," said Robertson.
Johnson's family hopes the autopsy will provide answers, but worry the overnight rain may hurt any evidence and the chances of finding the killer.
"All his son can ask is where's my dad, just heartbreaking, for a child to grow up without a father," said Sullivan.
Johnson is a graduate from Ripley High School. He is survived by his three-year-old son, Nicholas.