Neighbors gathered Tuesday morning to remember their friend who was fatally shot Monday night while sitting in his car, parked just yards from the duplex in which he lived.
Baton Rouge police say 35-year-old Quinton “JR” Johnson was found shot multiple times around 11 p.m. inside his car in the parking lot that served the duplexes in the 800 block of Swan Street, which is bordered by Southern University. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Victoria Vaughn, 35, arrived home soon after the shots were fired, but before officers found her friend dead. Vaughn and her fiancé, Travis Sheppard, were walking toward Johnson’s car on their way to the front of their duplex. They quickly realized something was not right because Johnson’s feet were hanging out of his car and he didn't respond to them as they approached.
“When I saw his feet, I knew something was wrong, and we took off running toward his house, shouting, 'Somebody shot JR. Somebody shot JR,'" Vaughn said.
Vaughn said she woke up Johnson's fiancée as well as another neighbor. She knocked so hard on one of their doors, she broke the glass.
Johnson lived with his fiancée and young son in the duplex next to Vaughn's. She said her family, Johnson’s family and a few families across their shared front yard were very close knit.
Over the past several months, several cars parked in the duplexes' parking lot have been broken into, Vaughn said. Someone also had spray painted Johnson’s car, slashed his tires and keyed the vehicle on multiple occasions, she said.
Lighting and security has been a concern for some of the residents, and Vaughn said she expressed it to management of the duplexes at multiple meetings.
Richard Murray, executive director of the East Baton Rouge Housing Authority, which manages the duplexes, said the meetings are held at least quarterly to discuss concerns and upcoming events. He said off-duty law enforcement officers patrol the Housing Authority’s locations, but there isn’t enough money to do it every day at every location.
Vaughn and Sheppard recently installed a surveillance camera near the door to their duplex in response to their concerns, but they removed it after they were told they did not have prior approval for the installation.
Police said Tuesday morning that they did not have a suspect or a motive. Vaughn didn’t know why someone would want to kill Johnson, calling him a family man who was known for his ability to calm down emotionally charged situations.
She recalled a time when two people attended a barbecue that Johnson was hosting. When Johnson realized the two were fighting, he made them talk it out or leave. They chose to talk, Vaughn said.
“He was just happy,” Vaughn said. “Even when he argues, you don’t even really know he’s mad unless you look at his face. He wasn’t the type that actually got mad. He was always happy."
Johnson worked as many as 14 hours a day painting and renovating homes that flooded in August. Vaughn and other neighbors said he was a “country boy” from Marksville who loved trail rides on horseback and riding ATVs and dirtbikes.
“Everybody that rents here wants to leave now that he’s gone,” Vaughn said. “His funeral is going to be packed out. He’s going to be really, really missed. They actually took a good person for nothing.”
Follow Emma Discher on Twitter, @EmmaDischer.