Teen shooting victim passes away as police renew plea for information

Rally, vigil planned for young shooting victim
Birthday party shooting victim dies
Lawrence teen won't survive shooting injuries
Teen shooting victim won't survive

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – The Marion County Coroner's office confirms 14-year-old Daron Johnson passed away Friday morning.

Johnson was one of five young people injured Saturday at the Lions Club in Lawrence.

Tuesday, the family says doctors at Riley Hospital for Children declared him brain dead.

Police now tell us they're confident there were two young shooters at the birthday party.

Now investigators and Daron's mom are pleading for information to bring about justice.

Cheree Sampson looks visibly drained.

She walks in measured steps, her eyes appear focused elsewhere.

"I'm not able to handle it. I'm in disbelief. I'm in denial. I'm torn up," Sampson said.

Sampson just learned that her second oldest son won't survive, after getting caught in the crossfire in Lawrence.

She just heard the words no parent should have to hear.

"They have determined that my son is deceased," she said.

14-year-old Daron Johnson, a shy kid who loved music and his three brothers, was declared brain dead after senseless gun violence by fellow teenagers.

His mom, emotionally stunned, can barely leave the hospital.

She says she isn't ready to let go.

"I'm waiting...it's a waiting game," Sampson said. "I don't want to pull. Don't want to do nothing right now but have him in the room still like he is."

Daron, nicknamed "Manny", was shot in the head during a friend's birthday party.

Police say he was one of five young people caught in the crossfire of a fight that turned violent when two people pulled guns around 10:30, as the party was winding down.

"It was his first time going to a party. I don't even let him go anywhere," Sampson said. "We didn't know it was going to be the end of his life."

His mom keeps replaying the days and hours leading up to that moment.

She only took him to the party after making sure parents would be there, that it was supervised, that it was safe.

They'd even texted about it earlier in the week when Daron said he wanted to go.

"I was saying 'Manny I really don't want to let you go because you know how kids is out here killing kids'," Sampson said of her text.

That fear became her reality Saturday night.

And investigators say the person who shot her son is potentially still out there.

Lawrence Police arrested a 14-year-old for firing a gun at the party, but they believe another teen did, too.

"We're very confident now there was a second person who fired shots," said Lawrence Police Chief Deputy Gary Woodruff. "We believed there was more than one from the beginning but now we can definitively say there was a second individual."

Investigators want anyone at that party to tell them what they saw.

They're imploring people to talk.

"When violence like this visits, it's tragic and the entire community is affected," Woodruff said. "That's why we're asking anybody with information - people who were at the party, anyone with information to contact police. They can either call Lawrence Police or be anonymous through Crimestoppers at 262-TIPS."

For Daron's mom that information is now essential.

She's lost her son.

She needs answers.

"Please talk. my baby lost his life to this! I'm hurt," Sampson said through tears. "Parents can y'all please tell y'all children to come forward?! My son was an innocent bystander. I want justice so bad. Please! Because he didn't deserve this!"

Daron Johnson had just finished up the seventh grade at Belzer Middle School.

His teachers there set up a fundraiser for the family, to help pay for medical expenses.

That GoFundMe account may now be used to help lay this young man to rest.