Devina M. Johnson, a senior at Benson High School, had a purpose in life: raising her two-year-old daughter.
And she had a plan, said Cindy Volkmer, the 17-year-old's homeroom teacher since freshman year.
“She had a goal of going to college and majoring in business,” Volkmer said.
But on Monday morning, Volkmer was preparing to supervise her homeroom without Johnson, who she described as “just an overall wonderful person.”“I'm going to miss her a lot.”
Johnson died at Creighton University Medical Center after she was shot Saturday at 36th and Ames Avenues, near her home. A day later, on Sunday, 29-year-old Marquez T. Daye was taken to the Nebraska Medical Center in critical condition after a shooting near 37th Street and Ames Avenue.
Benson High Principal Anita Baldwin said the mood at the school Monday was somber. The school district had extra counselors in place at the school to talk with students and staff. “We've had a steady flow of students coming in to express their feelings,” she said.
Johnson was well known at the school, Baldwin said, particularly among the senior class. “The senior class is taking it the hardest,” she said.
Baldwin and Volkmer, a math teacher, described Johnson as an affable, outgoing and hard-working young woman. She kept up with her studies and attended school regularly after her daughter was born in 2009 and was on track to graduate next spring.
Volkmer said homeroom is a time each day when teachers talk with students, get to know them, build relationships. Johnson was a wonderful person to be around. She always seemed happy. “Very rarely did she have a bad day,” Volkmer said.
And she talked about her daughter, a lot. “She was her reason for living,” Volkmer said.
On Saturday, a neighbor reported hearing at least five shots, and then saw several people run from the scene. Johnson is the city's 20th homicide of 2011.
Police technicians were seen examining a vehicle that Johnson was sitting in at the time of the shooting. Officers searched for two boys or teenagers immediately after the shooting, according to an emergency dispatcher.
On Aug. 5, Johnson was ticketed for misdemeanor property damage and the case was transferred to juvenile court. Otherwise she had no known police record.
Sunday's shooting occurred about 3:45 p.m. Police at the scene said it appeared that a silver Chevrolet Trailblazer was fired on by someone in another vehicle near the corner of 37th Street and Ames Avenue. Police marked three shell casings with cones near the corner.
The Trailblazer drove off to the south, where it collided with a maroon Jeep at 37th Street and Paxton Boulevard. The Jeep lost a rear wheel on the passenger side and came to rest on the grass median between Paxton Boulevard and Sprague Street.
The Trailblazer came to rest at the corner of 37th and Sprague Streets. Police said Daye's injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.
Daye remained in critical condition on Monday, police said.
Anyone with information regarding either incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 444-STOP (7867), www.omahacrimestoppers.net, or text “OPD” to 274637 (Crimes).
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