Professional bass fisherman killed in motel shooting
Police have identified a black male suspect for the motel's security video.
James Johnson (Source: Bassmasters.com)
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -
As soon as the sun came up Monday, Jackson Police Detectives were searching for clues in the parking lot and the woods behind the Motel 6 on the I-55 Frontage Road that is just south of County Line Road.
Just hours before, on Sunday evening about 7:30, James "Jimmy" Johnson, 56, was shot in the face. He died at the scene.
"Jimmy is a great guy. You know, he was just a real friendly guy...always willing to help. Just one of those special people, you know, that loved bass fishing just like the rest of us," said Madison County resident and Bassmaster Elite Series Fisherman Pete Ponds.
He says the fishing community is in shock.
"We're just a big family and we are always willing to help each other. You know, bass fishermen and fishermen alike are just kind of a club," explained Ponds.
Johnson, an Open Series Fisherman, was one of more than 300 anglers in the Metro for a tournament at the Ross Barnett Reservoir. He was staying at the hotel with his wife.
Bassmaster.com reports the Ganado, Texas man caught someone trying to burglarize his boat just before the gunfire. Jackson police could not confirm that information. JPD did release a picture from surveillance video. They hope someone will recognize the man in the red shirt.
"We travel together and we usually stay in the same areas, generally," said Ponds.
He says the fishing community is concerned and sending their condolences to Johnson's family.
The Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open Tournament will continue this week, beginning Thursday, with weigh-ins at Madison Landing in Ridgeland.
"They had the Bassmaster Classic here one time. I hope that this doesn't put a bad spotlight on Mississippi, and that's all we can do is hope," said Ponds.
Bassmaster says it will remember Johnson at several events during the tournament this week.
According to the BASS Masters website, Johnson was a member of BASS Nation, and was active in BASS Nation events in Texas, as well as qualifying for some BASS Nation Championships.
Johnson has been on the Bassmaster circuit since at least 2009.
This week's tournament is the first Bassmaster's event at the Ross Barnett Reservoir in more than 10 years.