Teenager a Victim of City Heights Violence: Mom

Johnny Pugh's mother hopes her son's death will be a wakeup call to other teenagers

By Diana Guevara and R. Stickney
|  Monday, May 21, 2012  |  Updated 6:20 PM PDT
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Johnny Pugh City Heights Shooting: Images

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This photo of Johnny Pugh was given to NBCSanDiego by his family.

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Mother Opens Up After Death of City Heights Teen

City Heights teenager Johnny Pugh was killed by a gunshot wound to the head. Diana Guevara spoke with his mother, Joy Pugh about the violence behind his death.
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A City Heights teenager, killed by a gunshot wound to the head, may have been a victim of gang violence even though he didn’t belong to a gang his mother said.

Johnny Pugh, 17, was walking home on Poplar Street in the Azalea/Hollywood Park neighborhood at 12:05 a.m. when he was shot and left in the middle of the street.

His mother, Joy Pugh, said she heard four gunshots from inside her home. When she ran outside she soon learned the victim was her son.

Johnny, a popular high school junior, was rushed to Mercy Hospital with a gunshot wound to the face.

The bullet had entered his brain, according to his mother, and he was declared clinically brain dead Sunday.

“Even right now, I think that I’m having a dream and I’m going to wake up and this isn’t real,” Joy Pugh told NBCSanDiego Monday.

While her son wasn’t involved in street gangs, she said officers told her they believe the shooting is gang related.

She wants the community to know the shooting that killed her son is just one instance of the violence that is becoming more and more common in City Heights.

“You hear about people getting shot in the community all the time but you never think it’s going to happen to you,” she said.

“After living there for so long, it becomes so normal for that stuff to happen that you just don’t even think about it.”

Johnny Pugh grew up in the neighborhood and had a lot of friends. At 17, he did what he wanted to do, his mother said.

“He just liked to smoke his dope and have a good time,” she said.

Joy hopes the manner in which her son died will be a wakeup call to other teenagers.

“Don’t hang out in the street. These teenagers need to start realizing they’re putting their lives in danger out running the streets all night long, smoking dope, doing what they want to do; not listening to their parents,” she said. “This could happen to them.”

Her son wasn’t a bad kid, she said. Knowing he was about to turn 18, Johnny was training to work at a neighborhood store.

“My son had his faults but my son was determined to have a good time every day,” she said. “He was happy every single day.”

Joy Pugh said she and the teen’s father made the difficult decision to end life support and donate her son’s organs.

“I’m doing much better knowing that his organs are going to be donated and I’m happy for the person that gets them. Especially the person that gets his heart,” she said through tears. “Because he was a really good person and whoever gets my son’s heart is going to be really lucky.”

Officers have not identified suspects in the shooting.

Investigators are urging witnesses and anyone with information about this shooting to contact the Homicide Unit at 619-531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.

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