'These people are still out killing.' Family of Nashville man murdered in 2018 wants justice, information

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Posted at 9:56 PM, Sep 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-28 23:26:12-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — As a Nashville family marks the four-year anniversary of the murder of their loved one, they are frustrated the case remains unsolved.

On Sept. 30, 2018, just after 10 p.m., Metro Police say Joe Johnson walked out of the Dollar General store on Lafayette Street and got into a car. An unidentified man then walked up to the car and fired multiple shots at him. The man rummaged through the car and then took off. Johnson was rushed to the hospital but died from his injuries.

"Detectives spoke to several witnesses there at the scene," said Detective Matthew Filter with the Metro Police Department's Cold Case Unit. "Most of them were only able to give a vague description of the suspect."

However, a surveillance camera did capture a photo of the killer. Metro Police said he was in a red Chevy Malibu and parked near the MDHA office buildings on University Court. He walked to the Dollar General store and stopped and talked with one individual, and went and hid near the building. It appeared he was waiting for Johnson to come out of the store. Metro Police still don't know why the man shot Johnson.

Johnson's mom said he was always smiling and laughing. The Nashville native was killed two weeks after his 30th birthday, and he had just returned from a trip to California. His mom said Johnson and his girlfriend were considering moving out of Nashville. She said the future was bright.

"When my son was murdered, everybody said he didn’t do anything to nobody," recalled Tracey Shepherd, Johnson's mother. "He helped everybody."

Shepherd said their family was extremely close, and losing Johnson was hard on everyone.

"When he passed away, everybody said, 'oh, I know it took half of you,'" said Shepherd. "We knew that was your rock."

Shepherd said she was upset there hasn't been more progress in the investigation, but she refused to give up.

"Even if the system failed him, his mama will never fail him," said Shepherd. "I want something to be done about it now because these people are still out killing."

Metro police are encouraging anyone who recognizes the suspect or has information on what happened to come forward.

If you have any information on who killed Joe Johnson, you can call the Metro Police Department Cold Case Unit at 615-862-7803. You can also call Nashville Crime Stoppers anonymously at 615-74-CRIME.

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