Family and friends host vigil for man killed in Golden Nugget Casino
GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The parking lot of Gulfport’s J&W Quick Stop was packed and had cars going into the street for Randy Johnson’s balloon release.
Family members said that they wanted to stand together in solidarity by celebrating his life and accomplishments.
According to Biloxi Police Department, Johnson was killed inside the Golden Nugget hotel Saturday.
Officers said the shooting came after a physical altercation between Johnson and Jereme Jones of Mobile.
The balloon release event was filled with music, food and people with smiles as they watched the blue and white balloons soar into the sky.
Anetta Johnson, Randy’s mother, explained that she’s grateful to have spent 41 years of her life with him.
“Randy was always outgoing, energetic and always loved to play. We always knew him for his smile. He was a fighter for sure, but he really wouldn’t start a fight, but he would definitely fight. But Randy loved everybody and everyone knew it,” she said.
Johnson said that she wouldn’t come to terms with the fact that the shooting victim was her son once she got the news.
However, she said it was her faith that kept her afloat during this time of hardship.
“I wouldn’t believe it until after they confirmed it. I kept saying I won’t react until there’s concrete evidence that it was true, I just kept praying that it wasn’t true,” she said. “I thank God for the years that we had. Randy knew that I loved him and that he loved me, we were in a great space. God don’t make any mistakes so I’m content and at peace. God is a loving God, and he has gotten me through this.”
Johnson said that she was filled with joy seeing how her son touched many people by seeing them show up for support.
Friends brought T-shirts, food and balloons to make the celebration memorable.
“I think it’s great, his friends loved him and they’re showing the love. He was born in Gulfport, so this is his home. I am just amazed that all of his friends and family are showing love for him,” Johnson said.
Randy’s best friend Torio Holmes grew up with Johnson and said that the last time he talked to him was when he was at the Golden Nugget Casino.
Holmes said the phone call was over job opportunities, but he wishes he said, “I love you,” had he known that was the last phone call he would have gotten from Johnson.
“He loves the casino; we love the casino. I was just on the phone with him, and he seemed fine. I didn’t want to bother him, so I told him to go ahead, and I’ll talk to him later, but that never happened. Now he’s gone to a bigger place. It’s sad that I can’t talk to my friend anymore,” Holms said.
Although Johnson is happy to see everyone in good spirits, she doesn’t want to see everyone gathered under these circumstances.
“The gun violence has gotten out of control. So, we need to stop this if it’s possible. People don’t think so you have to think before you react. I always tell him don’t react. You have to ask yourself if it’s really worth it,” she said.
Saturday another group of Johnson’s friends will hold a vigil at Villa Del Rey Park.
Johnson’s funeral is Monday where he’ll officially be laid to rest.
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