As community members rally to help the family of a 26-year-old man who was paralyzed during a shooting on Thanksgiving morning, some are also calling for the closure of the Federal Way nightclub where the incident occurred.
Federal Way police responded to the shooting at approximately 1:40 a.m. on Nov. 22 and found Damario Johnson with a gunshot wound to his chest. Johnson was transported to Harborview Medical Center, where he is still hospitalized, according to Federal Way police Commander Kurt Schwan.
Johnson’s family, who has set up a GoFundMe account called #JusticeForDamario, said he was shot from behind while working as a security guard at Cafe Arizona.
“Damario was trying to diffuse an altercation and was shot in the process,” according to the GoFundMe page, which has so far raised over $4,000 towards the fundraiser’s $25,000 goal. “He has a spinal cord injury that has hindered his ability to walk. THE DAMAGE COULD BE PERMANENT!”
The family said that Johnson’s mother, Sue Ellen, is no longer able to work as she is currently his primary caregiver during his recovery period.
“This entire ordeal will put Damario and his loving mother in a financial bind,” according to the fundraiser, which also states that Johnson’s parents and siblings are “fighting hard to stay strong and positive throughout these unfortunate circumstances.”
Johnson’s family also criticized Cafe Arizona officials for the amount of time it took them to respond to the family, and said the club had already planned another event the same week that Johnson was shot.
His family took to social media before the Dec. 4 Federal Way City Council meeting, calling on Johnson’s supporters to protest for the closure of Cafe Arizona at the meeting.
“I want justice and I especially want this club shut down for good,” Johnson’s mother told the Mirror.
During the meeting, Johnson’s aunt, Keli Johnson, criticized the night club for not having any security cameras, allegedly not having insurance and for “not taking responsibility for the people that work there.”
“It took them a week-and-a-half to contact the family to see how he was doing,” Kelly Johnson said at the meeting. “They took no responsibility at all.”
She noted that her nephew was shot while protecting the facility, and the club hasn’t apologized for what happened.
“That’s incredible to me,” Kelly Johnson said. “So I’m here imploring you to do something about establishments like this that are not prepared or safe for not only the people that work there, but the people that are there not realizing there was no cameras … I’m here asking your help to do something about this. Cafe Arizona should not be in business.”
Her response was met with applause from the audience.
Cafe Arizona could not be reached for comment.
“As someone who just spent 35 days in a room across the hall from him where he is now, I went and met him last night,” Taylor said of her visit with Johnson at the hospital. She said he is in a “dark place and he is going to need some support” from the community.
“I know that you guys came out there for me, and I hope each one of you will come out there for him,” she urged the community.
Commander Schwan said police currently do not have any suspect information. He said witnesses to the shooting “either refused to cooperate with the investigation or fled the area for their own safety at the time of the incident.”
He added there is no surveillance video. Police urge anyone with information to contact the Federal Way Police Department.