Jaime Palma said he watched the teenagers grow up together in his Alexandria area neighborhood. On Monday night, the three friends were hanging out together as usual, which is why Palma said he was so perplexed about what came next.
Fairfax County police said an 18-year-old discharged a handgun, firing a shot or shots that took the life of 16-year-old Kevin Johnson and wounded an unidentified 14-year-old at a Pembroke Village townhouse about 8 p.m.
Police said that Johnson died after he was taken to a hospital and that the 14-year-old boy was in stable condition.
Police declined to comment on whether the shooting was accidental or intentional or to describe the circumstances that led to Johnson’s death.
Palma said it was tragic to see the group torn apart after so many years.
“It’s sad it’s going to end like this,” said Palma, a barber who had cut Johnson’s hair at the nearby Marvin’s Barber & Beauty.
“One is about to be put in the ground,” he added. “Another is injured, and the other may spend years in jail.”
Dozens of friends and relatives gathered Tuesday night to remember Johnson during a candlelight vigil. They sang, said prayers and released balloons into the evening sky as the sun set.
“I love you, brother. I miss you. You should be right here,” Karsha White, Johnson’s sister, said as she cried. “Someone took you away from us.”
Afterward, friends blasted one of Johnson’s hip-hop tracks — he was an aspiring rapper — from a car stereo and danced, shouting the lyrics.
Fairfax police said Tuesday evening that no charges had been filed against the 18-year-old but that detectives were continuing to investigate the shooting.
Police said Johnson was hit in the upper torso and the 14-year-old in the lower body by a shot or shots fired from a handgun. They said that the gun was recovered at the scene, on Pembroke Village Drive, and that the 18-year-old was questioned. The 18-year-old was not identified because he had not been charged, police said.
Police also said more people than the three teens may have been inside the home at the time of the shooting. No one answered the door of the townhouse Tuesday.
Friends remembered Johnson, who attended Fairfax’s Bryant High School, and his love of music. He went by the nickname “Mook,” and a Twitter account dedicated to his music carried the message: “I’m a young [expletive] trynna get my momma rich.”
Makayla Holmes said that she had just recently met her neighbor — who lived down the street from where he was shot — but that she thought he was something special.
Johnson, who was active on social media, had sent her a link to a mix tape. Tributes to him showed up Tuesday on Twitter.
“He wanted to be something good in his life,” Holmes said. “He wanted to be an artist.”
Diane Bell, Johnson’s grandmother, declined to comment when she was reached by phone.
White said in an interview that her brother would be missed. “He always made me laugh,” she said. “He always told me I looked like Beyoncé, no matter how I looked.”
Teasha Lynch, a neighbor, said she regularly saw a group of teens hanging out at the townhouse where Johnson was shot.
She said she often wondered, “Where are the adults?”