Rochester, N.Y.— She didn’t want to talk, not after the week she had been through. Wanda Johnson had only been home for a few minutes when this reporter knocked on her door, asking her to discuss the sentencing of a man accused of helping murder her beloved son. After a few minutes of thought, she welcomed photographer Will Morgan and I inside her home. Over the course of 25 minutes, this mournful mother poured out her heart. The day before, she listened to a tearful young man apologize for his involvement in the shooting death of her eldest son, Brandon Johnson.
He was shot to death in an apparent robbery while at a friend's house in the Buffalo area.
The Niagara University student was only 21-years-old, by no means a troubled child according to family members.
“He was well loved, just a happy fun loving person,” explained his mother.
The last time she spoke with him was at 10:35 p.m. on December 8th 2011. He was dead just thirty minutes later.
“It just tore me inside,” said Johnson. “I’m still recovering, I still gotta get in my right mind and I’m not there yet.”
Wanda Johnson missed about seven months of work, her husband suffered a stroke, she believes because of stress and her young son faces the daily obstacle of trying to focus with his studies.
“It struck me real hard and I’ll just never forget it, ever,” whispered Bradford Johnson, Brandon’s 15-year-old brother.
The Charlotte High School student has aspirations of becoming an electrical engineer. Wanda simply wants to get on with her life by pulling herself out of the near year-long rut that began last December. She feels that the sentencing of Cordero Gibson recently along with Gordon Jackson, not long before has given her some relief. But, for her, more must be done. Other young men must learn from their mistakes.
“You gotta think, young boys, you gotta think today (and) before you do something stupid that will affect your life, for the rest of your life.”
Evan White, Reporter