In May 2012, Jamere Johnson was one semester from graduating from the University of Baltimore, sitting outside his West Baltimore home in his new car, celebrating a friend being accepted into dental school, when someone tapped on his window.
Johnson, then 22, rolled the window down and was shot in the neck. His life was never the same.
Johnson became a quadriplegic, unable to move from the neck down. Still, he continued to enjoy visits from friends and eating his favorite foods.
In February, he died when his ventilator became unhooked. This week, the state medical examiner formally ruled his death a homicide caused by complications from the 2012 shooting.
“I talk to him every day and tell him I’m sorry he went through so much,” his mother, Tina Goode, said in an interview Friday. “He deserved so much more.”
Johnson’s shooting remains unsolved. Goode said that police told her that they believe it may have been a case of mistaken identity or a gang initiation.
Goode said Johnson graduated with honors from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, and was attending University of Baltimore to pursue an interest in video game design.
He and his friends had started a video game design company called Pretty Weird, and Johnson helped design the concept for a video game called “Slugger.” The project was described as “a unique blend of cartooned characters and intricately painted backgrounds, with emphasis on high impact color.”
“Each level will have its own untiled background, and all animations will be hand drawn,” read a description of the game.
Johnson was working as a manager at a sporting goods store in Harbor East, and purchased a car.
He was outside his home in the 1900 block of W. Lexington Street when he was shot, and he accelerated to get away and crashed the vehicle. It was totaled before he even made a payment. When he woke up in the hospital, he couldn’t remember what happened and believed he’d only been in a crash.
Over the years, Goode said Johnson was generally happy but would get depressed about his condition.
“I never asked what was wrong — I knew what was wrong. I asked if there was anything else I could do,” she said.
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Johnson could move his head, and at some point he started lifting his shoulders. Goode said they were in the process of weaning him off the ventilator.
He’d become unhooked from the machine before, and was able to be revived. But when it happened again on Feb. 20, it was not noticed in time.
Goode laments the life that was taken from her son. He loved to travel and visit different types of restaurants.
“He was worthy of more time to do the things he wanted to do in his life,” she said. “He was shot a week before his 23rd birthday. But Jamere had accomplished so much by the age of 22, that some people don’t.”