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‘He was a king’: Community mourns Johnny Purchase

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Johnny Purchase’s shooting death was a reminder that those who are nearest a solution can also be closest to the harm.

Purchase, a 60-year-old youth success coach at Edna Martin Christian Center, was canvassing the community near 25th Street and Keystone Avenue on Jan. 12 when someone shot and killed him.

Details about Purchase’s death are still mostly unknown, but Shonna Majors, the city’s director community violence reduction, said during a virtual public safety update Jan. 19 her understanding is the shooter was “expecting trouble” at the door from someone else.

Instead, it was Purchase — or “Mr. Johnny,” as he was known — placing flyers on doors to let people know about available resources, Majors said.

Community members and family gathered Jan. 18 for a vigil to remember the work Purchase dedicated himself to.

“Mr. Johnny went out on a victory, making a difference, and he’s going to be remembered for that,” Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Randal Taylor said.

In an interview, Purchase’s son, Jonathan Purchase, said he wants his father to be remembered as someone who cared about uplifting and empowering his community.

“I want his legacy to be known that he was a king,” he said.

Purchase was known for working outside of the spotlight. He loved to dance and always seemed to have a smile.

Purchase had seven children and 11 grandchildren, for whom Jonathan said his father talked about leaving behind a foundation.

Jonathan said he hasn’t gotten official facts from the city or police department and wants people to keep pushing for answers about what happened to his father.

“I want the community to stand up and finish what my father started,” he said.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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