Gary mother lost her 4 children to gun violence

October 14, 2010 (GARY, Ind.)

This is Lenore Johnson's emotional story of coping with tragedy:

Johnson says it is her belief in God and the support of her church that brought her back from the brink of insanity.

Nineteen years ago Johnson moved to Gary to be closer to her sister. Thursday evening she talked with ABC 7's Evelyn Holmes about her spiritual calling and a series of personal tragedies that nearly killed her.

"This is my whole life right here. This is my whole life," Johnson said, with emotion staining her face as she clung to what's left of her family -- a small collection of photographs, the beloved images of her children.

"I raised my children," she said. "I'm the only one that raised my children. I never left them anywhere until they left me the day that they died."

The mother of four struggles with solitude after separate incidents of gun violence claimed the lives of all of her children.

Johnson's 24-year-old son, DuShaun, was gunned down December 8, 1993, after she sent him to the store to buy groceries. Her feelings of guilt are still evident.

"Me and my kids had a good rapport. I loved my children. I love them to death. They just left me first, and I'm so sorry," Johnson said.

Almost four years later, Johnson said, police officers came to her home on September 14, 1997, to tell her that her youngest son Edward had been shot.

The 22-year-old died at the hospital, and that sent the 59-year-old into an emotional tail-spin.

"It was just something about Ed getting killed. I was like, 'What is it?' " said Johnson.

But just as she recovered from a nervous breakdown, fate would take her only daughter, Tasha, in January of 2003 during a robbery at the beauty shop where she was getting her hair done.

And then again, in August of last year, Johnson's last living child, 39-year-old Tony Johnson, was shot in the head and killed by an acquaintance.

"I loved my children," Johnson said. "The only reason I talk about them like they're still here is because I know they'll never walk in that door again."

Today, Johnson is semi-retired and remains close to her five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Johnson says it is her faith that gives her peace as she slowly gains strength to fight against gun violence.

"So maybe I had to go through all of that to get where the lord wants me to be," she said. "I don't know. I just got to wait on what the lord says."

Three out of the four people responsible for shooting her children were convicted and are now doing prison time. She says DuShaun's murder remains a cold case.

Lenore Johnson is starting to do volunteer work with ex-offenders who she says need a second chance. She is also looking to do more the help young people understand the perils of gun violence.

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