Mother of murder victim on Chattanooga gang war: "My son would be disappointed"

Brenda Johnson hopes gang members will change their lifestyle choices after hearing her message.

Brenda Johnson is preparing for the sixth anniversary of her only son's death.

"It seems like just yesterday to me," she says.

On April 30, 2010, 20-year-old Michael was shot in the head while sitting on the porch of an E. 27th Street home.

Johnson tells NewsChannel 9 Michael was a member of a gang, but even he would be devastated by the ongoing gang war in Chattanooga.

"He would be very disappointed. Even though he was in a gang himself, I don't think he was really in it like that," says Johnson.

Tuesday, Police Chief Fred Fletcher said for some gang members, vengeance is more important than bloodshed.

"There is enough drive among these people to commit violence that what we use to deter crime is not as effective as we have seen traditionally and in other places," he says.

Nearly six years later, Johnson regularly speaks at Violence Reduction Initiative call-ins, urging gang members to leave that lifestyle behind.

She says she sees Michael's face in each of theirs.

"They don't want their parents, sister, brother to go through what I go through everyday," she says.

But despite her pleas, and increased patrols throughout the city, the violence continues.

Johnson reminds gang members that their choices affect more than just their own circles.

"We all bleed the same color, so it doesn't matter what flag you wear. I just want to let them know. Just put the guns down. Think about the impact it's having in our community, in Chattanooga. A lot of people don't feel safe anymore."

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