Police said a simple question to a stranger sparked a shooting that killed 20-year-old Marvel Johnson Sunday night near East 81st Street and Tracy Avenue.
"I'm going to miss him, I'm going to miss him so much," Tiffany Oliver, Johnson's mother, said.
Oliver calls her son her birthday gift. Their birthdays were just two days apart and they would always share a party, even as he grew older.
"I said, ‘little man, you want your own cake?' He said, ‘no mama, just keep it the same,'" Oliver recounted.
She said that was always Johnson, putting others before himself until his final moments. Even as he lay dying in the street at 81st and Tracy, his final words were to comfort his girlfriend.
"She held him the whole time until the paramedics got there, and she said the only thing he had to say was, ‘it's going to be OK,'" Oliver said.
Now she can't believe that something as trivial as a question could have ended his life. Police told her a young man came up to Johnson and his girlfriend outside Sunday about 10:30 p.m., while they were visiting her family and asked for a light.
Johnson said he didn't have one, but asked the guy if he'd heard about some recent car break-ins in the neighborhood.
"The guy started running but, as he's running, he's shooting the gun at my son," Oliver said.
Johnson said was shot in the stomach and killed.
"Marvel didn't know him, Marvel wasn't accusing him of anything. He just asked a question and, to be shot down because you asked a question, is senseless," Oliver said.
She said her son was doing everything right, taking classes at a business college and working toward a music career.
"He had a golden voice," she said.
Now, knowing she'll never hear it again, she's asking those who know what happened to raise their voices, even down to the shooter.
"You know who you are and you know you fired the gun, so do the right thing and turn yourself in because you killed an innocent man," Oliver said.
Police are not saying whether the shooter may have killed Johnson because he was involved with the car break-ins in the neighborhood and that's why he got so mad when asked about them, or whether he just didn't like the tone of the question.
Witnesses also said there were two elementary-aged kids around at the time who ran off when the shooter did.
Detectives are still looking for a suspect. If you have any information, call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.