Gulfport family relieved after murder suspect surrenders in FL

Gulfport family relieved after murder suspect surrenders in FL

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A Gulfport man wanted for a murder charge is no longer on the run. Juwan Johnson, 18, surrendered to police in Leesburg, FL, early Thursday morning. The family of murder victim Stanton Saunders is speaking out and still pushing for an end to violence in their Gulfport community.

It's been two weeks since the shooting death of Saunders. Police said the man behind the trigger was Johnson, who was found almost eight hours away in Leesburg.

Saunders' family members said though the pain is still there, they do feel a sense of relief.

"Happy, a little bit, but I ask questions like why," said Saunders' cousin, Larry Perkins.

"We're happy. Not so much to the detriment of the person. We're happy, because he has been caught. It's going to give my sister closure," said Saunders' aunt, Patricia Silva-Mujica.

Around 11:30 Wednesday night, Leesburg police confirmed they received a notice from Gulfport police that asked them to be on the lookout for Johnson and that he was wanted in connection to a homicide in Gulfport.

The bulletin also stated Johnson was armed and dangerous. Leesburg police stopped by the home of a relative of Johnson, but didn't find him.

Not even 24 hours later, Johnson turned himself in and was locked up in the Lake County Jail.

Saunders' death and the deaths of others in Gulfport have sparked meetings to discuss the crime and violence in the city. Now, community members are gathering to put together a stop the violence march.

"You have teenager or children going to the penitentiary. You have one going to the graveyard. It solves nothing. So, whether they get this guy or that guy, it will still be a forever pain for the simple fact that we can't bring them back," said Perkins.

"We are Christians. We believe in forgiveness. So, I don't know if it's just that, but closure is definitely not here yet. We are more so happy for our younger generation in our family, because that does give them peace. They continued to wonder if this was going to become a cold case," said Silva-Mujica

No word yet on when Johnson will be extradited to Mississippi. For now, he remains behind bars in Florida.

A stop the violence march will be held in Gulfport this Saturday at 10 a.m. starting at the corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and Hwy. 49. The public is encouraged to attend.

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