I ran into this today, but did not know the details as we were rerouted.
Dion Johnson had just begun washing a customer's car at the Untouchable car wash on Chef Menteur Boulevard when a heated argument between him and a family member spiraled out of control, Johnson's relatives said. He was shot multiple times at about 1:25 p.m. and died at the scene on the 7200 block of Chef Menteur Highway, police said.
The incident took place in the midst of lunch hour along a busy thoroughfare, as car wash customers watched. Soon after, more than 50 people - many screaming and crying - rushed to the car wash parking lot where Johnson lay on the ground. As police investigated, Johnson's 3-year-old daughter, wearing a pink skirt and matching ribbons in her hair, looked on the chaos.
Johnson's mother, inconsolable with grief, punched and kicked an Orleans Parish coroner's van as it drove away with her son's body inside.
A woman who was at the car wash and witnessed the shooting said that Johnson was in the process of washing her car when he began arguing with a man who was in the car behind him. The woman, who said she is a local radio DJ who lives in the area, did not wish to give her name.
"I heard them arguing, at first I thought they were just joking, but then I saw him (the shooter) flash a gun under his shirt.
"(Johnson) said something like, 'I'll fight you with my hands, but I'm not gonna fight you with that gun,'" the woman said. She said shortly thereafter Jonson picked up a chair and threw it at the gunman.
Then Johnson "started cursing and yelling at him," she recalled. "I was thinking: be quiet, please just be quiet," she said.
"Before I could close my eyes, the guy started shooting at him and ran. I heard (Johnson) say, 'he got me,'" she recalled.
Several friends and relatives of Johnson who rushed to the scene said another family member was responsible, and that the bloody mid-day altercation was the result of a dispute that had erupted days earlier.
Police did not confirm whether the man's assailant was a family member, nor did they release any information concerning suspects in the shooting. No arrests have been made and the investigation is still in the preliminary stages, NOPD spokesman Garry Flot said Tuesday.
"It was all over a girl, something so stupid," said Arreyel Miguel, Johnson's sister-in law.
Miguel said the argument between the two men began last Sunday, and had carried on until their fatal scuffle Tuesday afternoon.
"All this was over a little fight they had before. He wasn't a bad guy, he didn't deserve this," Miguel said while cradling Johnson's 1-year-old son in her arms.
"He was a good, sweet boy. He had some trouble in the past, but he was changing his ways, all he ever wanted to do was be with his kids and his girl," she said.The victim lived at the adjacent Bern-Mas apartment complex, which overlooks the parking lot of the car wash, said the apartment's manager, Patricia Laniz, 52.
"I just started this job three weeks ago -- this is awful. I'm still shaken up about it,"Laniz said. She recalled hearing gunshots and seeing Johnson fall to the ground and a man running away.
"It's so sad to hear. I didn't know him but everyone said he was a nice guy," she said.
After the shooting, a dozen police officers stood inside the taped-off perimeter where two cars and a lone bicycle stood surrounded by shell casing markers.
Some witnesses said later they heard as many as seven or eight shots rang out.
"All I heard was "Pow. Pow. Pow. Pow. Pow," said a man named Exel, who did not wish to give his last name. The man said he was in the middle of washing his taxicab at the time of the shootout.
"I saw him running, and then he collapsed near my car," the man said, referring to Johnson, while pointing to a large blood splatter on the gravel beside his maroon minivan.
Exel's wife, Christian, who also wished not to give her last name, said she ran for cover as soon as she heard the shots, but that her husband sat perfectly still on a nearby bench as bullets flew past him.
"I don't know what I was thinking," her husband recalled. "I just couldn't move."
The lead homicide detective in the case is Nicholas Williams, police said. Police ask anyone who has any information on the homicide to call Crimestoppers at 504.822.1111 or toll-free at 877.903.7867. Tips can also be texted to C-R-I-M-E-S (274637); text TELLCS then the crime information. Callers or texters do not have to give their names or testify and can earn a $2,500 reward for information that leads to an indictment.