Family of Journi Johnson hold gun violence event

Family of Journi Johnson hold gun violence event

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - Keeping guns out of the hands of kids was the focus an event honoring a young life taken too soon.

Save our Youth was put on by the parents of two-year-old Journi Johnson, who was killed by a gun police say was left out in the family's home.

Her parents are continuing putting on community events, even in the midst of their grief.

Parents who have lost their children to gun violence, accidents and suicide by guns were sharing their stories and raising awareness about how
critical it is to lock up your gun.

"I mean, it kind of made me cry," said Journi's mother, Kayla Johnson. "You never think that you would go through the same thing as someone else. And for them to share how they went through it, and how they got through it, it just encourages you to get through what you're going through."

Since the prayer walk they organized several weeks ago, they've been flooded with calls and messages of support on Facebook. Some from as far away as the U.K.

"Some people are telling similar stories," said father Turhan Johnson, who is facing charges in Journi's death. "Other people are just saying how our being so positive is blessing them, because they can't get over their situations."

That's why Turhan Johnson and his wife put this event together. He hopes their situation is going to help a lot of people.

And police say the initiative their department started, already is. After Journi was killed in December, Police Chief George Kral put a large focus on getting locks on guns in the city.

Since they announced it, they've handed out more than half of the 500 free gun locks they have.

And they're shocked how many people did not have one. It's something they say is 100 percent preventable and a simple step to keep another horrible tragedy from happening.

"Losing a child is an abnormal event, and a very heavy trauma they have to experience," said Carter Thomas of Good Company Christian Counseling, who spoke at the Save our Youth event this evening.

Another speaker at the event was LaShawnda Holmes, who lost her son to suicide with a gun. She says the likelihood of suicide statistically goes up if a gun is in the home.

She said tonight is about encouragement to other parents who've lost a child, and about making the community safer through gun safety awareness.

"If you've never lost a child you don't know how it feels," she said. "So we just try to go around and encourage people to keep the faith, to trust in God and to move forward."

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