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Columbus Pawn shuts its doors following store employee's murder

COLUMBUS, Ga. -- A dimmed open sign. Empty shelves. A vacant parking lot. These are all that's left of the Columbus Pawn on Fort Benning Road as its owner clears away the last of the merchandise Thursday afternoon.

The owner, who did not wish to speak on camera, tells News 3's Mikhaela Singleton he can't bring himself to continue business after one of his employees was murdered and another was injured during an armed robbery that went wrong December 20.

Sixty-eight-year-old Joseph Johnson and another employee were minding the store counter when two armed suspects came in around noon. Shots were fired on both sides -- killing Johnson, injuring his coworker, and injuring both suspects.

One of the alleged robbers, 15-year-old Quintavis WIlliams, appeared in Recorder's Court Thursday morning to face a murder charge as an adult. Court records show he was denied bond and now awaits a Superior Court trial. The second suspect will face charges as soon as he is released from the hospital, says Columbus Police Department Major J.D. Hawk.

One of the neighbors to Columbus Pawn is The Spot 2, the barber shop where the injured employee ran for help after watching Johnson get gunned down.

"We all ran into the back of the shop to help him, not knowing what's going on," says Master Barber Boysie Shaw. "One of the pawn shop workers ran over saying he had been shot in the arm, and has he been shot anywhere else and if we can help him and he thinks his other partner is actually dead inside the building. So I ran inside the building to see if everything's okay, and that's what actually happened. He had passed away."

Shaw says he had just spoken with Johnson the day before the shooting and it was a shock to see him dead.

"He always had a positive attitude," Shaw remembers."It's crazy that this happened for no reason basically."

He also says he feels sorry for the 15-year-old suspect and what this will mean for the rest of his life.

"It's just sad that a young person such as him has lost his whole life really over something that didn't even belong to him or a place he shouldn't have been," Shaw says. "It's sad that he didn't have the strength to mow a yard, rake some leaves, whatever, do something better with his time than to do this to someone who didn't need a job, who was a retired vet just trying to do right in his life."

The owner of Columbus Pawn tells News 3's Mikhaela Singleton: "This store has been here since the 70's but this is too much. I can handle the break-ins, I can handle shoplifting, but I can't take someone getting killed in my shop."

He adds that business will go on just a few blocks away. All the Columbus Pawn merchandise has been moved to A1 Pawn on Victory Drive.

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