Keileon Johnson’s mother remembers her son as someone who was quick to make a joke and someone who was a hard worker.
Johnson, 22, died May 23 after being fatally shot in DeBerry. A week after Johnson’s death, his family and friends in the Waskom community are still grieving.
“He was a very calm young man,” Stacy Dimples-Johnson said. “He always had a smile on his face. And he could be a funny jokester when he wanted to be. He could make anyone smile even through tears. And if you were mad or upset, he would be the first person to crack a joke. If you look on my Facebook page, there are many many tributes to him and his character.”
The Panola County Sheriff’s Office said they responded to a shooting on County Road 3151 on May 23. Officials said two people, one of them identified as Johnson, were shot during an argument. Police have charged Tramaine Eugene Butler, 20, of DeBerry with murder in the case.
Johnson was a Waskom High School graduate and part of the 2014 and 2015 state football championship teams — and in his senior year he was the leading tackler for loss in all of East Texas, his mother noted.
Johnson was a student at Panola College and had just finished his second semester there after previously attending college in Louisiana. Johnson’s mother said he worked in the oilfield last year in Oklahoma. She said Johnson had only been off work for less than an hour before he was shot and killed.
Charlotte Reeves, a classmate, set up a GoFundMe page for Johnson’s family, describing him as someone “proud of himself for the direction he was headed.”
“He loved his family and friends more than anything and was always sure that you knew it,” Reeves wrote. “He touched many lives and he will never be forgotten. His life was taken too soon by someone who had no right to decide when his time was done.”
Dimples-Johnson thanked the Waskom community for their support.
“The Waskom community has rallied around my family and I this past week,” she said. “They are doing benefits to raise money as well as a GoFundMe account. They have offered their services as well as the high school facilities to my family and I for his service.... (it’s) just awesome and amazing community support.”
Dylan Harkrider, one of Johnson’s friends, first met him in seventh grade when his stepdad took the Athletic Director/Head Football Coach job in Waskom. Harkrider recalled Johnson coming up and introducing himself — and picking at the fact that Harkrider was the coach’s son. They became good friends.
“He was one of the first people I ever talked to really at Waskom at the time, because it was a lot smaller school than I originally was from, but that’s how I met him originally,” Harkrider said. “Keileon, he was a big jokester, and he always, he had a big mouth, he was loud — if you’re walking the high school, you’re walking around, you don’t even have to look and you hear his voice and you know exactly who it was.”
At times, Harkrider said Johnson had to be serious, and he remembers Johnson was always focused. He also liked to joke around
“He was always a jokester, always the life of the party, real outgoing and stuff like that,” Harkrider said. “Throughout this time that after he passed, just seeing all the community come together and stuff like that just shows how big of a people person he really was, and he was friends with everybody; everybody had positive things to say about him.”
Harkrider said they hung out less because he attends the University of Texas in Austin, but Johnson would always meet up with him to play basketball while he was back at home. Harkrider called him “a great friend.”
He was “just a good dude, and he was just a great friend to me always. and I always could count on him if I needed him,” Harkrider said. “We’re gonna miss him.