Reward offered in Wilmington teen’s shooting death

Reward offered in Wilmington teen’s shooting death

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Crime Stoppers of the Lower Cape Fear is offering a reward of up to $5,000 to anyone with information leading to the arrest of the suspect involved in a Wilmington teen’s murder last month.

Zalleux “ZJ” Johnson Jr., 18, was fatally shot while at a basketball court in the Creekwood community on Thursday, Feb. 21. Johnson managed to escape from the scene before collapsing on Emory Street.

Police later found Johnson and began life-saving measures until EMS could arrive. He was taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center where he later died.

Investigators with the Wilmington Police Department believe Johnson’s murder was gang-related, and a spokesperson confirmed in 2018 he was a validated gang member.

Yolanda Hayes, Johnson’s mother, was among 12 family members who made an emotional plea during a news conference at the Wilmington Police Department nearly two weeks ago asking for the community’s help to track down her son’s killer, while also refraining from any sort of retaliation.

“Bring my son’s killer to justice. I don’t want anybody to take it into their own hands. I don’t want another mother to feel the pain that I feel,” Hayes said during the Feb. 26 news conference. “If it wasn’t for God in my life, I wouldn’t be able to stand right now. I don’t want anybody’s sisters, brothers to go through what I’m going through.”

Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous was also at the news conference and urged those who have information to come forward.

“If there’s any humanity left in this world, see this hurt this family is going through, step up and do the right thing, do the right thing, let’s end it. This culture of violence and silence needs to stop," said Chief Evangelous.

To remain anonymous tipsters should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-531-9845, the Wilmington Police Department at 343-3609, or send an anonymous tip to Text-A-Tip by texting “CRIMES” (274637) and starting the text with “Tip708.”

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