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Young mans 1996 murder may have been random

Detectives seek witnesses to Jefferson student's shooting that had no apparent motive
by: Courtesy of PPB Alaijo Shaune Johnson was shot to death in August 1996 as he sat on his front porch talking with his girl friend. Police believe there are witnesses who could help find his killer.

Police are trying to solve a baffling 1996 murder that was witnessed by many people. Some of them have still not come forward to tell investigators what they saw.

According to police, around 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 31, 1996, 17-year-old Alaijo Shaune Johnson was talking to his girlfriend on the front porch of a home in the 3900 block of Northeast Garfield. As they were talking, someone approached them from behind.

"They're sitting on the porch, they hear a noise in the bushes," said retired homicide detective Terry Wagner. "And he gets shot multiple times. She runs to try and hide to get away."

Witnesses told police that a group of people had been sitting on the porch of a vacant duplex directly across the street from the shooting scene. Those witnesses scattered after the shooting and investigators were unable to locate anyone who admitted they had been there and saw the shooting.


Fox 12 reporter Nicole Doll has spent weeks talking to Portland police Cold Case Division detectives about their unsolved cases and going through the files. Her stories are being run every Thursday on the 10 O'clock News in hopes the public can help solve them. This one was broadcast on Nov. 17.


One of the few witnesses who talked to police, a neighbor, reported seeing a black man get on a black bicycle and leave the area. The neighbor described him as light complected, age 14 or 15, wearing dark clothing.

Police cannot find a motive for the killing. They say Johnson did not have a criminal record and was not associated with gangs.

"My son was a good boy," says his mother, J'Nevelyn Jackson. "I think about my son every day it had a great effect not just on me, but several members of my family...my nieces, my nephews, my mom."

Jackson said at the time of his death, her son was about to start his senior year at Jefferson High School. He volunteered with at-risk kids, played drums for his church and was extremely close to his family.

Investigators say there were a number of gang-related shootings that summer, and the killer may have been a gang member.

"I would say that every shot that was fired, hit the intended target," Wagner said. "Whether they knew him or because there are gang initiation things where they just had to find somebody."

Investigators believe there are witnesses who have information vital to the case. If you can help call Crimestoppers at 503-823-HELP (4357), or the Portland Police Cold Case Unit, 503-823-0400.