Heart patient, 6, killed in road rage attack

2015-03-19 20:02


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St Louis - Marcus Johnson jnr's parents figured a sunny day at a city park was just what their son, a 6-year-old kindergartner, needed while recovering from heart surgery the previous week and a doctor's visit that same day.

Instead, the family will bury Marcus on Thursday after the child was shot in the chest and killed in an attack his mother and father said stemmed from a traffic dispute.

The boy's 15-year-old brother and a 69-year-old family friend were also wounded by the occupants of a car who shot at the family's minivan as it left O'Fallon Park on the city's north side on 11 March.

Marcus Johnson snr said he returned fire in self-defence as the rolling shoot-out continued for several blocks, with three other children - ages 8, 10 and 11 - in the car.

Even as St Louis experiences a crime surge that includes a 2014 homicide rate that was one of its highest in nearly two decades, the young heart patient's death has rattled the city.

The elder Johnson said Marcus, his youngest son, was diagnosed with a heart ailment as an infant, and he and his wife, Qiana Johnson, lost another child in 2012 who suffocated in his sleep at 4 months old.

"There was a line drawn," said funeral director Ronald Jones, referring to an unwritten code of the streets that protected the innocent from violence. "Kids, family - they were off-limits."

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