Empire State Shooter's Mother Brings Humanity to a Killer (VIDEO)

I have no sympathy for someone who takes it upon themselves to wipe another human being off the planet, as did former Coast Guardsman Jeffrey Johnson, who shot his former coworker near the Empire State Building.

But I couldn't help feeling just a tiny twinge of compassion for a person who sounds like he was extremely troubled and depressed, and who dressed up every day in a suit to leave the house for a job he no longer had, and who dined alone every night with his two cats. And now the agony of Johnson's mother, who is in her 80s, makes this story seem even sadder.


Johnson's mother (who didn't want to reveal her first name) describes Jeffrey as a kind-hearted, caring person who loved animals. In fact, she told The New York Times how Jeffrey's beloved cat, Romeo, died in his arms and how he said that after the cat's passing, "life had diminished tenfold."

She also mentions how, at 11 years old, Jeffrey was struck by a car and lay in a coma for five days, emerging with major brain trauma. There is a scientific link between brain damage and criminal behavior and I can think of quite a few killers whose parents have reported early head accidents. Ms. Johnson wonders if brain trauma eventually caused him to "snap." But then she adds, "This may be some kind of excuse."

Ms. Johnson also told The New York Times, "I don’t blame police in New York for shooting my son because he killed somebody, but for me, he hasn’t changed."

Woah. Imagine a mother or family member saying she doesn't blame the police for shooting her son? Normally, a family member would have hired a phalanx of attorneys by now to see about suing the city. Granted, that would have been a hard case to prove, given that Jeffrey had a gun and pointed it straight at two cops. His mother thinks he did this on purpose, to die by cop. (See what you think in the video below.)

Jeffrey had also served in the Coast Guard -- he was an expert marksman -- and wanted to re-enlist after September 11 but was told he was too old. "He was very patriotic," says his mother.

Ms. Johnson sounds like a very sweet and intelligent woman, and I can only imagine what this poor lady is going through. Her pain and her memories of the son she knew only make this tale all the more tragic and unimaginable.

Do you feel bad for Ms. Johnson?

Image via Bernt Rostad/Flickr

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