A charismatic man who impressed his teachers at Brainerd High School but failed to break out of three generations of gangs and poverty was killed during a shooting and car crash on Friday night.
Jumoke Johnson, 23, climbed the ranks of the Rollin 60 Crips as a teenager. He was a smart kid, a natural leader, and was a senior in high school when he was first profiled in the Times Free Press.
Police said he was a gang kingpin, a dark thread linking shootings and drug deals throughout East Chattanooga. They said he ordered hits, participated in drive-by shootings and shot a man in the back of the head — but they couldn't prove it.
In 2012, Johnson told the newspaper he wanted to change, wanted to get on a better path, go to college, or the military, or somewhere.
After that story was published, an anonymous donor offered Johnson a free ride to a college in Alabama, and he went – but was kicked out after one semester and ended up back in Chattanooga's streets.
In 2013, he was arrested during a cocaine distribution sting that also snared more than 30 other men. In January of 2015, he pleaded guilty to a single drug charge and was sentenced to more than five years in prison.
Last week, Johnson escaped from a federal halfway house on McCallie Avenue and cut his GPS monitor.
On Friday, he died in a hail of bullets on E. 12th Street. Christopher Woodard, 20, was also killed.
Witnesses said one vehicle chased another down the street around 8 p.m. and gunfire was exchanged. The front car crashed and piled on top of another vehicle.
Woodard and Johnson were dead by the time police arrived — both were shot and also injured in the crash, police said. Woodard was out of jail on bond for robbery charges.
They are the first two people to be killed in Chattanooga during 2017.
The city saw 33 homicides during 2016.