He has stably stabbed an 82-year-old church trustee in the Lower 9th Congregational home, which he had rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina in a Thanksgiving morning quarrel in which his wife was wounded, one nephew died and the other interrogated, police and relatives said.
New Orleans police said the elder Elijah Johnson died before 9 a.m. Thursday morning due to multiple injuries in the 1500 block at Tricou Street. They killed DeFranklin Reynolds (31) multiple shots. Relatives said he was Johnson’s stepson.
Police say the first investigation suggests that Reynolds stabbed Johnson and his 51-year-old mother before another relative intervened in their defense and shot Reynolds.
Relatives at the scene said the shooter was Johnson’s other son and was interrogated by police. Johnson’s wife was stabbed in the face during the Tails and, according to relatives, was taken to hospital. Police said he was in stable condition.
As murder detectives investigated the scene in Johnson’s one-story white house, family members gathered beyond the yellow police warning tape to mourn Johnson, who had just received a bundle of Thanksgiving food from one of his sons hours before.
One man was stabbed to death, the other man was shot dead, and a woman was transported to the hospital with stab wounds in the lower 9th ward.
“It’s just a huge loss for his family, and it’s a huge loss for the church and this community,” said Willie Thomas, pastor of the nearby Philippi Lutheran Church in Christ, Johnson’s congregation.
Johnson was a potter who lived by installing tiles in houses, according to the son of 59-year-old Michael Johnson. He called his father a “quiet guy, a nice guy, a good guy”.
When he retired, he was also a neighborhood pillar and a “historian” who had a wealth of knowledge about the area, Thomas said.
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While Johnson knew the pastor as “skinny” by many, the pastor said another nickname was “general,” because of the rigor and attention to detail he put into church affairs. In addition to his treasury work, he was a church walker before the pandemic forced members of the high-risk congregation to watch worship services online.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, he has led online prayer meetings and posted enthusiastic comments on the church’s Facebook page.
“Whatever the church should have done, it made it happen,” Thomas said, adding that “it’s just a great example of what a man should be.”
After God and his family came to the New Orleans Saints – Thomas said Johnson was a “tough” fan.
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Around 7 a.m. Thursday morning, Michael Johnson said one of Elijah Johnson’s sons, who live nearby, came past the house to throw away food for Thanksgiving. More than an hour later, that boy received a frantic call from Johnson’s wife about the murders.
Johnson died at the scene and police said Reynolds was declared dead at the hospital.
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Michael Johnson said he didn’t know why the quarrel started.
According to Uptown Messenger, in 2013, police accused a man of the same age named DeFranklin Reynolds of a series of “unprovoked” stabs during the Pontchartrain Expressway.
After he was charged, a judge found Reynolds mentally unfit and, according to court records, directed him to a hospital in the Eastern Louisiana Mental Health System in Jackson.
The case was postponed for two years due to protracted questions about Reynolds ’mental competence before a judge was ready to go to court in July 2015. In October 2015, he pleaded guilty to three grievous bodily harm and was sentenced to five years in prison.
Several senior police officers responded to Tricou Street on Thursday. One of them, Captain Frank Young of the 5th District, put his arm around his relative to comfort him while the crime scene technicians took pictures.
“I’m sorry it happened to you at Thanksgiving,” he said.
Homicide detective Leonard Bendy is leading the investigation and can be reached at (504) 658-5300, police said.