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Two brothers in Baltimore killed within a year

Two brothers in Baltimore killed within a year
Brothers Darrian, left, and Darrius Johnson, of Northwest Baltimore, were killed within less than a year of each other. (Handout / HANDOUT)

Darrius and Darrian Johnson were born one year and 16 days apart. The brothers, often mistaken for twins, were inseparable since childhood, their father said.

Nedrick Johnson watched, heartbroken, as Darrian kissed his older brother's photograph after he was killed last July, Baltimore's deadliest per-capita year on record.

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Less than a year later, the father is burying Darrian.

"He was my best friend," said Nedrick Johnson, 38.

The brothers were both 19 years old when they were killed, about a mile and a half apart in Northwest Baltimore.

Darrius Johnson died July 10, 2015, in a double shooting in the 5100 block of Park Heights Ave., police said. He was among more than a dozen people killed in the city the week Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake fired then-Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts.

The case, like most of last year's 344 homicides, remains unsolved.

Darrian Johnson was shot about 9:40 p.m. Wednesday in the 4300 block of Fernhill Ave., just a block north of the home on Ridgewood Avenue in West Arlington where the brothers were raised. Darrian was taken to a hospital, police said, where he died about 20 minutes later.

He was one of two people killed Wednesday. Tiffany Lowery, 30, was shot to death about 7 p.m. in the 1300 block of James St. in Pigtown, police said.

The city has recorded 117 killings this year, 17 in the Northwestern District.

The Johnson brothers played pickup sports and rode dirt bikes since they were 5 or 6 years old, their father said.

"They used to sneak them out of the house and everything," he said.

Both were athletic: Darrian played quarterback and Darrius power-lifted competitively, he said. Darrius shot pool, could do a flip off a wall with a running start, and would sometimes ride his dirt bike with one hand — or none.

"They was real different, but they was alike," their father said.

The whole family called Darrian "Doddy," a nickname coined when young Darrius couldn't pronounce his brother's name.

Nedrick Johnson scrolled through photos of his sons on his cellphone: standing in front of the Christmas tree, sitting together at a family get-together, diving into a pool in tandem, popping wheelies on their dirt bikes.

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A video clip showed Darrian shooting a basketball on a street hoop with Nedrick Johnson's third son, 11-year-old Dallas.

Darrian had edited one photo of himself, his father said, superimposing a hologram of his brother next to him.

Friends said Darrian never quite recovered from Darrius' death.

"When he lost his brother, he lost part of himself," said Brianna Brooks, 20.

"He was definitely his other half," said Taylor Cook, 21.

Cook and Brooks stopped by Johnson's house Thursday afternoon to offer their condolences and a bouquet of flowers.

Darrian was caring, helpful, loyal, supportive and fiercely protective, his friends said.

Cook said Darrian stood at her side at her cousin's funeral, and when she opened a chocolate-covered strawberry business at her house, he came by and bought them every week.

"He was the type to call you out of the blue," she said. " 'You good? I'm just checking on you. You need anything?'"

Brooks said he called her regularly, too, when she went away to college in Atlanta.

Tyler Homes, 19, who lives on Gwynn Oak Avenue nearby, said he grew up with Darrian.

Homes and his girlfriend are expecting a baby boy soon, and he wanted to Darrian to be the child's godfather.

Homes said Darrian was a great cook and a lifelong friend.

"He lived his life," he said. "No matter if he died young, he lived his life to the fullest."

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