Family of 2-year-old accidentally shot to death by brother says life cut too short

Two-year-old Jvontae Johnston was fatally shot by his 13-year-old brother who was playing with a gun when it accidentally discharged, according to Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer. 

  • 13-year-old facing reckless homicide charges in juvenile court
  • Sheriff: Father appeared to be running drug operation out of the house
  • Father, Jamahl Evans, facing several federal charges 

UPDATE @ 7:10 p.m. (June 5):

The 12-year-old sister of Jvontae (Jay-vee-On-tay) Johnston said the 2-year-old was always having fun.

“He was playful, he loved ... balloons, SpongeBob and Barney,” said Krislanae Johnston, who said she thought he really would have liked school once he was old enough.

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Known by nicknames including JV, motorman and biscuit, the 2-year-old also was strong and maybe could have become a star athlete, a wrestler or football player, his sister said.

Left, a memorial is set up outside the Wheeler Avenue home in Harrison Twp. where 2-year-old Jvontae Johnston was accidentally shot to death. Right, Jvontae Johnston and his sister, Krislanae Johnston, make silly faces for the camera.

UPDATE @ 2:55 p.m. (June 5): 

Two-year-old Jvontae Johnston died from a gunshot wound after a gun his 13-year-old brother was playing with accidentally discharged, Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer said in a press conference Tuesday. 

Jvontae Johnston (Courtesy/Family)

The 13-year-old is facing a reckless homicide charge in Montgomery County Juvenile Court, according to officials. 

The teen appeared before a magistrate in juvenile court Tuesday afternoon and had a plea of denial entered on his behalf. He will be appointed an attorney and has been ordered to stay in juvenile detention.

His next court date is June 12 in front of Judge Anthony Capizzi.

Plummer said Johnston’s father Jamahl Evans, 34, was operating a drug operation out of the house in the 2500 block of Wheeler Avenue. Investigators recovered two handguns, marijuana ready for distribution, and other items used in drug distribution, Plummer said. 

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“It’s unfortunate because (Evans) is a convicted felon and shouldn’t have a gun at all,” Plummer said. “But if you’re in the drug trade and you’re dealing with drugs and cash, unfortunately they all have guns to protect themselves.” 

Plummer said investigators first believed Johnston was playing with the gun and shot himself, but the investigation later found the 13-year-old was the one with the gun. 

Plummer said Evans appeared to only be a marijuana dealer, and often marijuana dealers fly under their radar due to resources tied up fighting opioid dealers. 

“Everyone says (marijuana dealing) a victim-less crime, well it’s not. We’ve had several people die selling marijuana,” Plummer said. 

Jamahl N. Evans (Contributed Photo/Montgomery County Jail)

UPDATE @ 2:35 p.m.:

Jamahl Evans, father of Jvontae Johnston, made an initial appearance Tuesday in Dayton’s federal court on one charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

U.S. District Court Judge Walter Rice – filling in for a magistrate judge – advised Evans of the charge and the range of penalties. After a long sidebar following the hearing, Rice said that the complaint and affidavit was sealed and would remain so.

Wearing Montgomery County Jail blues, Evans hunched over the podium and told Rice it was because of bad sciatica when the judge asked Evans if could stand up straight.

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Rice said the government is seeking pretrial detention and scheduled a hearing for Friday and a pretrial hearing for June 19. Evans said he understood the charge against him and would not be hiring his own attorney.
Rice informed Evans that being a felon in possession of a firearm has no minimum prison sentence but does have maximums of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, post-release supervision and forfeiture of weapons.
Montgomery County Common Pleas Court records indicate Evans has felony convictions for having weapons under disability, complicity to attempted felonious assault and assault on a police officer. Federal prosecutors could not say if those met the standards for felony crimes of violence.
Asked why Evans was being charged in district court, assistant U.S. attorney Amy Smith said it was because he violated federal law. Smith would not elaborate.
Evans was shackled before U.S. Marshals led him out of the courtroom. 

UPDATE @ 10:40 a.m. (June 5):

A man was arrested on Wheeler Avenue in Harrison Twp. hours after a 2-year-old was fatally shot, according to jail records. 

Jamahl N. Evans, 34, was arrested around 8:15 p.m. in the 2500 block of Wheeler Avenue on a preliminary charge of having weapons while under disability, jail records show. 

Around 4 p.m., Jvontae Johnston, 2, was found suffering from a gunshot wound at the Wheeler Avenue home and later died from the injury. 

While deputies were investigating, an incident occurred inside the crime scene around 7:30 p.m. that ended with two people detained at the scene. 

A car pulled out from one of several driveways inside the marked scene, when Montgomery County deputies approached them and drew guns on at least two people.

One person fled the car and a second person was wrestled to the ground as he got out of the vehicle. Both were seen in handcuffs.

Deputies said the two who were detained were not related to the initial shooting. 

It was not immediately known what event Evans was arrested in connection to. 

We’ll update this page as we learn more. 

FIRST REPORT (June 4):

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Medics and police responded to the 2500 block of Wheeler Avenue around 4 p.m. on the reports of a child with a gunshot wound to the chest. A 911 caller who reported the shooting described the child as a 5-year-old boy, according to the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center. Initial reports indicated that the child may have shot himself, however, officials have not confirmed that information.

News Center 7's Sean Cudahy said he saw someone trying to drive away in a car inside an area blocked off for investigation.

The coroner’s office said they were not releasing any further information about the child’s cause and manner of death. The child has been identified as two-year-old Jvontae Johnston.

A neighbor in the 2500 block of Wheeler Avenue said he was sitting inside his home Monday afternoon at the time of a shooting.

“I just heard a pop. I know it was a gunshot that went off but I didn’t know where it came from,” Robert Ferguson said. “Then when I looked out the window, I saw police and the ambulance coming down the street.”

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It was an emotional scene, where family and friends could be heard crying, seen hugging and trying to comfort each other.

Two people were taken into custody at the scene after a shots fired incident.

(JIM NOELKER / STAFF)

News Center 7’s Sean Cudahy said he saw the two try to drive away in a car inside an area surrounded by yellow police tape during an active investigation.

The car pulled out from one of several driveways inside the marked scene, when Montgomery County deputies approached them and drew guns on at least two people.

One person fled the car and a second person was wrestled to the ground as he got out of the vehicle. Both were seen in handcuffs.

A Dayton police K-9 was requested to the scene to search for the car.

According to dispatch, a deputy reported shots fired and two people running.

The two people who were taken into custody when they attempted to leave the scene are not related to the 2-year-old’s shooting, deputies confirmed, declining to release details.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com 

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