“We’re at a loss for words. We’re deeply saddened by this,” he said.
The shooting occurred Saturday afternoon at an apartment complex in West Memphis, Ark., where Johnson lived, Capt. Joe Baker of the West Memphis Police Department told reporters. The Washington Post was not immediately able to reach Baker on Sunday, but Varner said a fight between several people outside the apartment escalated into a shooting. Johnson was not a target, Baker told reporters.
Neighbors told local media that they had heard as many as 40 gunshots. Photos and videos showed the windows of Johnson’s apartment riddled with bullets.
Officer Oliver Johnson, (late 20s) shot and killed playing with kids inside when bullets came flying through.— Tony Atkins (@TonyAtkinsFOX13) April 28, 2018
I had to walk straight past those kids to get to the unit.. Seeing their faces is perhaps the most heartbreaking thing I’ve done in a while. pic.twitter.com/Ouaum2q6LY
Portia Weatherspoon, Johnson’s neighbor, told ABC affiliate WATN that she stepped outside after hearing one of Johnson’s nephews yell that his uncle had been shot.
“When I went in the house, I found him shot,” Weatherspoon said. “Me and my husband tried to do CPR.”
It’s unclear whether police have made an arrest. It’s also unclear how many other people were in the apartment, but no one else has been injured.
Johnson’s death was a blow to the small, tightknit agency of 35 officers. Varner said Johnson worked in the Forrest City Police Department’s patrol division and had always been willing to take on more tasks, whether it was helping serve a search warrant or providing security at special events.
My deepest thoughts and prayers are with the fallen officer, his family and the entire Forrest City police department. Arkansas lost a hero and we must all stand with our men and women in blue.— Leslie Rutledge (@AGRutledge) April 28, 2018
Varner said the agency has set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to help the Johnson family.
Several friends, many of whom have changed their profile pictures to an image of a police badge with a band over it, have posted on Johnson’s Facebook page, on which he described himself as a “father of 2 wonderful girls and a man of God.” A picture on the page shows the uniformed officer standing in front of a patrol car next to Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse mascots.
“I just talked to you the other day. Letting you know trouble don’t last always. You will always be my little brother in BLUE,” one friend wrote.
A few hours after Johnson was killed, the Forrest City Police Department announced on Facebook that the department was canceling events “due to unforeseen circumstances.”