A 17-year-old found shot Monday afternoon behind the wheel of a minivan was killed when a gun that a friend was holding went off unexpectedly, the teen's mother said yesterday.
Lashawn A. Johnson died at Grant Medical Center at 1:29 p.m., about 20 minutes after he was shot in the van at S. Hamilton Road and Dundee Avenue on the East Side.
Willa Johnson-Wilson said she was still at the hospital when one of her son's friends called to apologize and said he planned to turn himself in to Columbus police.
"He said that Lashawn was driving the van, and he was playing around with a .38 revolver," Johnson-Wilson said. Another boy in the van accidentally bumped the elbow of the friend with the gun, she said she was told.
"He cried and said it was an accident," she said. "I don't think he anticipated the gun going off like that."
She said her son was shot in the back.
Witnesses told police on Monday that it appeared as though three young men pushed the van onto S. Hamilton Road, where it became involved in a minor crash with two other vehicles.
It is unclear whether the witnesses were mistaken and instead saw the men jumping from the moving van. Johnson-Wilson said she believes they panicked, bailed out and ran off.
With her help and their cooperation, the three were identified, detained by police and questioned. Police did not release their names last night but said they could be charged after further investigation.
"They're sorry," Johnson-Wilson said yesterday. "It is something that they all got to live with."
Lashawn Johnson grew up in Columbus and attended city schools before transferring to the Groveport-Madison district this year, his mother said.
Those sending their condolences included teachers and staff members at his former Johnson Park Middle School, where she said her son had been a popular student.
"He was just a goofy, funny kid," Johnson-Wilson said.
She wasn't sure where her son and his friends had been headed Monday. They live on the Far East Side, and he wasn't close to home when he was shot.
She said he was a lovable boy who had made some bad choices. He had recently been suspended from school after problems there with the mother of his 7-month-old child and was trying home tutoring, she said.
She said Lashawn, who was her second-youngest child in a large family, never complained. He loved to fish and enjoyed motorcycles.
"I don't know how I'm going to get through the days without seeing his smile," she said
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