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Family of Gulfport murder victim relieved after suspect found dead

Updated: Nov. 15, 2019 at 7:46 PM CST
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - With Roderick Bowers now dead, the family of the man who was shot and killed in Gulfport on Sunday may never know the full story of why their loved one was taken.

Kathy Preston, Cruz Johnson’s sister, spent Friday morning making funeral arrangements for her little brother. It’s something she never imagined she’d have to do.

“He’s in heaven because right now I feel like we’re living in hell,” she said.

Cruz Johnson’s tight-knit family is mourning his death, still numb after learning he was shot multiple times outside of a home in Gulfport less than a week ago.

“It hit me so different because I was just with Cruz the last 24 hours," said Cruz’s cousin Sable Johnson.

They described feeling like they lost a pillar from the family’s foundation. Siblings and cousins were raised together in Gulfport in their grandparents’ house on Arkansas Avenue.

“That’s why we all hurt so bad," Preston said.

She said things were going well with him. She said when he wasn’t at work, he was raising his two kids, singing, dancing and spreading joy.

“If you had a bad day, he would turn that day upside down,” Preston said.

“I could be fighting mad, he would calm me all the way down. He was my bodyguard,” Sable added.

The family was shocked to learn the suspect Roderick Bowers called WLOX News Now trying to explain what happened last Sunday morning.

“I knew then that he wasn’t in his right mind," said Howard Johnson, Cruz’s youngest brother.

When Bowers was found dead in Texas, Preston said it was like a weight was lifted off her shoulders.

“I was thinking, ‘Get him,’ and they got him, or he got himself, or whatever,” she said.

As they still processes their sadness and anger, the grieving Johnson family wishes mercy on Bowers’ relatives.

“They lost one just as well as we lost one, and it hurts. Although he did what he did, it still hurts. It’s an emotional experience," Howard said.

Cruz Johnson’s family said his spirit was like a bright light that was extinguished too soon.

“He was too good of a person for this person to come up and just shoot him," Preston said. “They took my baby for nothing.”

“The good die young," Sable said.

Funeral arrangements for Cruz Johnson are pending.

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