‘A lot of gun violence’: Thomson neighbors react to teen’s killing

Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 12:20 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 21, 2023 at 4:28 PM EST
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THOMSON, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Authorities have identified the teenage boy who died after being shot in Thomson last week.

Jonathan Johnson, 14, of Thomson, was shot in the head around 6:30 p.m. last Tuesday in the 500 block of Anderson Avenue.

He succumbed to his injuries at 11:31 a.m. Saturday an Augusta hospital.

Preliminary information indicates the victim and other minors were in the area when several unidentified men approached and shot at the home multiple times.

It leaves one family and the rest of the community in mourning at a time when many families are coming together.

Jonathan Johnson, 14, of Thomson, was shot in the head around 6:30 p.m. last Tuesday in the 500 block of Anderson Avenue.

Benji Cranford, mayor-elect of Thomson, says he’s hurt by the news.

“I am keeping the family and all of Thomson’s youth in my prayers,” he said Monday. “You don’t have the be an elected official to be disappointed with this news. All of Thomson is hurting due to this senseless crime. I promise when my administration is sworn in, the youth will be on our priority list.”

Those who live in Thomson say there has been an increase in violence in the last two or three years.

Sabrina Hester is a nurse who used to live in Thomson. Now she helps take care of a family member on Anderson Avenue, close to where the shooting happened.

“We got too many young children losing their lives to gun violence. And I’ve lived here for 57 years. And this has been the worst that I’ve ever seen McDuffie County since I’ve been here, 57 years,” Hester told News 12 last week after the shooting.

She says the violence needs to stop, especially involving children.

“He hadn’t even gotten to see what life would be like. He got to enjoy his life. And for somebody to just shoot him down like that like he was an animal. That’s just not acceptable, not acceptable at all,” she said.

Neighbors worry about what the future of Thomson could look like.

“They need to find better resolutions to the problem. Instead of guns, guns, guns, guns. Yeah, it’s got to get better in McDuffie County, it got to get better,” said Hester.

Patrick Rogers has lived in the county for more than 30 years.

“Thomson used to be a place where you can leave your front door unlocked,” said Rogers.

Times for Rogers have changed.

“It used to be a place where people cared about one another but it’s not like that anymore,” said Rogers.

He wants Thomson to start talking about the issues.

“I grew up here and I know Thomson is an alright place but we got a lot of gun violence,” he said. “A lot of people dying from gun violence and that’s the biggest thing. That’s the biggest issue right now.”

But he says things can change.

“As a community, we just come together and reach out to the young people and try to talk to them,” said Rogers. “Just have a conversation with them and see if we can change something. Anything, anything, just take these kids’ mind off all this gun violence.”