Northland News

Northland community leaders react to shooting at YMCA


Northland community leaders expressed shock and sadness about the April 16 shooting death of a man in the parking lot of the North YMCA on Sandalwood Place.

Deon L. Johnson, 36, was pronounced dead just after 4 p.m. Wednesday, soon after Columbus police arrived and found him in his car. Police so far have released no address for him.

Sgt. Christ Holzhauser, supervisor of the police department’s second-shift homicide squad, said an argument preceded the shooting. A gray or beige 2000 Chevy Impala with two or three men in it was seen racing from the parking lot after shots were fired, he said.

“I’m very disappointed that our society has reached the point where gunplay has to be the order of the day,” said a saddened Dave Cooper, president of the Northland Area Business Association.

“I was shocked just on a personal level because that’s the Y that my wife and I go to,” the Rev. Don Wallick of the Church of the Good Shepherd said. “It’s just shocking that it would happen there. My hope is - and I think this is certainly true - that it’s sort of an isolated and targeted thing. It was just those folks in that place at that time.

“I guess my other hope is that it will help pull the community together to really put our foot down about things like this happening.”

Dave Paul, past president of the Northland Community Council and chairman of the NCC’s development committee, said it’s frustrating that people who head about the shooting will think it’s indicative of the area as a whole.

I don’t believe that and many of the people who live here don’t believe that,” he said. “We have a tendency to consider ourselves fortunate when we hear about these incidents in other parts of town, but they do happen everywhere.”

Cooper agreed.

“It’s not that it’s happening in Northland; it’s happening all over,” Cooper said. “When I turn the news on at night, it’s happening on the East Side, on the South Side, in Hilliard.

“What we need to do is get people communicating in some way other than with guns.”

For more on this story, see the April 24 edition of ThisWeek Northland News.