INDIANAPOLIS — La'Toya Martin never expected to get that phone call – a phone call to tell her that her 17-year-old son had been shot and killed.
"This was an incident that could have been avoided," Martin said.
Metro police arrived at a home Saturday night to find James Johnson III had been shot. He was taken to a hospital where he later died.
"You had a group of boys in a room with guns and that should never be," Martin said.
Investigators told 13News, as of 5 p.m. Monday, no arrests have been made. Detectives are still determining what led to the shooting and if it may have been an accidental shooting.
His father, James Johnson II, never expected his son would become a victim of gun violence.
"He was always willing to help others. He didn't ask for much in return. He lived an honorable life," Johnson said.
James gave back to his community.
"317 Fruit Man was founded around having healthy food options in underserved and underprivileged areas. He brought fruit to neighborhoods that didn't really have grocery stores and things like that," Johnson said.
During the summer of 2021, he sold fruit cups at the grand opening of the Indy ECHO Lending Library, which partners with Pentecostal Temple COGIC for community outreach.
"James was a polite young man who positively impacted many people he had encountered," said Pastor Forrest Wooley III of Pentecostal Temple COGIC.
It seems everyone knew James.
"To meet him you would be meeting somebody who definitely has a heart of gratitude. He is a servant leader," Martin said.
He was also a promising high school basketball player.
Purdue Polytechnic High School Athletics tweeted a photo of James, calling him "Purdue Poly's best and brightest."
A bright young star taken too soon.
"James is my son and he's gone now due to gun violence, so this is very personal now for me even more than it was before," Martin said. "Anything that I can do [so] a mother doesn't have to receive the phone call that I received."
Martin said questions need to be answered.
"What makes us want these guns? What makes us want to go after these guns? What makes us want to protect ourselves? Why do we feel like the gun is going to protect ourselves versus communicating with the person we have an issue with? If we're not able to figure these out, then definitely our children will not," Martin said.
He said more action is needed to help change minds.
"Us as adults, legally we can walk around with these guns, if our children are following what we do, they're going to want to walk around with guns. So we can talk about it all day but we have to be that action," Martin said.
The family has set up a memorial fund online.
James' visitation and funeral service will be Saturday, Feb. 18 beginning at 11 a.m. at Stuart Mortuary, located at 2201 N. Illinois St.