A quiet alleyway running between two sets of houses in West Ealing became the focus of an intensive police investigation this week after 24-year-old Jason Johnson was shot dead. Chief reporter DAN HODGES visited the scene and spoke to friends still trying to come to terms with his mysterious murder
LOUD bangs piercing the November night caught the attention of few people in the houses along Cavendish Avenue last Friday evening.
Many of those who heard anything at all guessed it was a firework left over from Bonfire Night, an assumption compounded by the lack of visibility in the long, tree-lined alleyway behind their houses.
But yards from their back gardens in West Ealing, Jason Johnson lay fatally wounded after being shot in the chest while walking with friends.
Police who spent this week combing through the undergrowth for clues to the 24-year-old's mysterious killers have so far drawn a blank.
And emotional tributes have since been left at the scene from friends and family of Mr Johnson, who grew up in Hanwell, went to Drayton Manor School and fathered a three-year-old son.
Lifelong friend Beckie Luke, 24, said: "It's very shocking. We're not sure where he was going or what he was doing, we think he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"Jason was a happy guy and he was always smiling. He was a very loyal friend and a strong person.
"He grew up in Hanwell and we've all known him since we were quite small. Jason was very sociable and loved by a lot of people.
"He liked to spend time looking after his little boy. Whoever did this should get two life sentences - one for Jason, and one for his son who has to grow up without a father."
Officers from Operation Trident - whose focus is gun crime in the black community - are investigating, but no arrests have been made and a motive for the killing has not been established.
A post-mortem examination found the cause of death was a gunshot wound to the chest.
Police are asking for more people to come forward. DCI Fiona Mallon, leading the investigation, said: "Did you see anyone acting suspiciously in the Cavendish Avenue area at about 8.50pm last Friday? Did you see anyone run or drive off at speed from that area shortly before 9pm?
I urge anyone who witnessed the shooting or anyone who was in the area shortly before or after the shooting to please come forward." * Anyone who saws the shooting or who has information should call the incident room on 020 8733 4704 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
A life is remembered in rhyme
FRIENDS of Jason Johnson who are still coming to terms with his killing put together a poem this week celebrating his life.
The rhyme praises the 24-year-old's street-wise confidence and sunny attitude, and continues:
"It hurts as we sit here and wonder,
"Why we did not get to say goodbye,
"Or say the things we needed to the day you learnt to fly.
"We cannot have the old days back,
"When we were all together.
"But secret memories and loving thoughts will be with us forever."
Flowers and tributes were left next to where he was shot after police reopened the alleyway.
One bouquet included a message from his mother, which said: "Jason my living son, I will always love you and you will never be forgotten.
"You my son will always be in my heart." Another note said: "I will love you forever. You are my best friend. I will always keep it real and I will take care of our son. I know you won't leave me now."
One friend wrote: "Jason, we had such a short time together but I loved you so much. I still do. I don't know how I'm going to live without you."
And another said: "JJ - hope you're smiling down on all of us. I will never forget your cheeky smile."