Students recount 'senseless' shooting that claims life of YSU student
Published: Sunday, February 6, 2011
Updated: Thursday, May 12, 2011 14:05
When shots rang out at a North Side party early Sunday morning, Youngstown State University freshman Jordon Wagner fell to the ground 2 inches from fellow student Jamail Johnson. While Wagner escaped the house, which was filled with the smell of gunpowder smoke and riddled with bullets, Johnson did not."Once I get back up to my feet, all I see is this young man laying on his face, with smoke coming out of his body," Wagner said. "I don't even think he saw it coming."
Johnson was killed in the shooting, and 11 others, including Wagner and five more YSU students, were injured, according to a statement released by YSU.
Wagner had never seen a man killed. In the moments after Johnson fell in the doorway, a fleeing crowd of 35 to 40 people trampled Wagner. What he had hoped were merely warning shots had taken Johnson's life and left Wagner unknowingly bleeding.
"I didn't know I was shot till I got to the car," Wagner said.
Wagner exited the house through a back door, entering the bloodstained backyard where he lost his car keys.
Wagner waited in the cold with others, some YSU students.
YSU freshman DeShaun McDonald arrived at the party around 2:30 a.m. and described the atmosphere as calm and relaxed until a physical altercation ensued.
"A bunch of people just started pushing each other," McDonald said.
As the fight began to escalate, McDonald and his friend decided it was time to leave. But before they could leave, the shooter was pushed out of the house, only to immediately charge back in.
That's when the gunshots started.
"As soon as we begin to move, all I hear, it's just like pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, like at least 12 or more times," McDonald said.
McDonald said he was patted down before entering the party, and he did not understand how the shooter was able to bring a gun.
As McDonald made his way to the exit, he and his friend ran into what they believe was the body of Johnson.
"We both end up looking down, and then we see the dude right there, and he is just laying there, just bleeding," McDonald said, adding that a crowd formed around the body. "They just wanted him to live."
Jared Buker, a YSU student and president of the Alpha Phi Delta fraternity had also attended the party and expressed his grief about the tragedy.
"This is such an unbelievable tragedy. Our hearts go out to the family and fraternity brothers," Buker said. "This is really a wake-up call for the entire Greek system to realize how much we need to stick together and to keep everyone safe."
Witnesses said the altercation began when a woman pushed a bystander, inciting a group of eight partygoers to retaliate. The woman left at the request of a friend but returned roughly 10 minutes later with increased numbers.
"Everyone saw the gun," Wagner said.
A man wearing a red skullcap and a green jacket brandished the gun in the house. After being forced outside, Johnson went to the door to defuse the situation.
Johnson's efforts to maintain the peace cost him his life.
"It took a lot of bravery . to break up a fight when a man got a gun," Wagner said of Johnson's last moments.
Two minutes after the man left the party, he turned to the doorway and fired at least a dozen shots into the house.
Wagner and others were taken from the scene to St. Elizabeth Health Center.
At St. Elizabeth Health Center, Eslyn Woodberry was texting Johnson. She had become ominously sick to her stomach, a witness at the hospital said. That witness was Darlene Wagner, there to check on the condition of her son, Jordon Wagner.
Darlene Wagner told Woodberry that Johnson would not be responding to her texts. She told Woodberry that Johnson - a friend she had spoken with just an hour ago - had passed away.
Editor's note: Jared Buker is a staff member at The Jambar. His comments were necessary given his position as an eyewitness and president of APD. Darlene Wagner is a former staff member of The Jambar. Her comments were necessary due to her paternal relationship with the victim, Jordon Wagner.