LIBERTY CITY (CBSMiami) – Two men have been arrested in connection with the shooting death of a pastor who friends and family say spent his life ministering young people, and helping those in-need.
Larry Flowers, 20, and Tyreke Desire, 19, were arrested Friday and charged in the fatal shooting of Pastor Kenneth Johnson. Both are being held on no bond.
Johnson was shot Thursday evening outside City Market on 62nd Street and Northwest 13th Avenue in Liberty City.
According to the arrest affidavit, Johnson, 67, was approached by the suspects outside the market and they began to struggle.
“They attempted to rob him at gunpoint. The pastor, who also happens to be a park ranger for the City of Miami fought them off, fought for his life to the point where he took one of the suspects to the ground and at that point he was shot and killed,” said Miami Police Chief Manuel Orosa.
Desire, according to the arrest affidavit, pulled a gun out of his pocket and fired at the victim three to four times, hitting Johnson in the chest.
Johnson was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s trauma center where he later died.
An officer in the area heard the shots and saw the suspects fleeing. The officer gave chase, never losing sight of the suspects, and radioed in the suspect descriptions.
Flowers was caught and Desire kept going but was eventually apprehended.
Both suspects were transported to homicide office.
Click here to see Gaby Fleischman’s report.
Flowers, written in the arrest report, said he owed Johnson $60 but denied shooting him.
The store’s owner, Mohammad Bashir, says the men waited outside the front door of his store. When Johnson walked out, just moments after going to the ATM, the men ambushed him.
“When he go out they got behind him and one grabbed him and the other one shot him,” Bashir who was watching his camera system during the incident.
When the shooting happened, Bashir ran outside to find the well-liked 67-year-old Pastor Johnson lying in the parking lot. The two attackers ran off.
“The guy was bleeding out here out of the shoulder,” said Bashir.
Johnson’s friends believe the killers were going after Johnson’s fake gold chain while Bashir says his ATM visit possibly made him a target.
“This is an innocent guy. He’s an older person and he didn’t bother nobody,” Bashir said.
Johnson, who family says was a minister at Power Faith and Deliverance Ministries, ministered to drug addicts, gang members, and ex-cons who were trying to better their lives. The irony that this was the way he died, is not lost on fellow Pastor Vinson Spann.
“The worst of the worst Pastor Johnson deals with,” said Spann. “And who would think that the people he helped would be the vehicle that took him out at the end.”
Spann says Johnson helped him with his project to help rehabilitate troubled souls–and rent them apartments in Liberty City–while helping to keep the buildings drug and crime-free.
“We brought the cross, symbolic of Jesus Christ, and put it in the midst of the low point, symbolizing bringing hope in a low and depressed area,” said Pastor Spann.
Pastor Johnson was a lifeline for L.C. Davis who has struggled in recent years.
“Moneywise, food, clothes, whatever I may need,” said Davis.
Chief Orosa said the department has stepped up patrols in the area but more needs to be done to promote growth and break down the stigma of snitching.
“Everything down there is fueled by the drug trade and its fueled by young adults that have no jobs, that have no future in their minds. They’re not afraid of dying and they’re not afraid of keeping quiet and not talking to the police,” said Chief Orosa.
Following the shooting, the victim’s wife, Latoya Johnson, told CBS4’s Gaby Fleischman she was hurting and just couldn’t understand.
“Why would they do that? Why would they take his life? Just take the chain and don’t hurt him,” said Johnson.
“He was a very faithful man. He worked very diligently to help others. That’s why it’s so sad,” said Minister George Ellis following the shooting.
Those shaken by the loss hope it will send a message to the community.