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Their Bright Promise of the Future Died With Them : Crime: Khye D. Johnson 'was everything children should be.' USC student Soy Song Lao looked forward to a career in diplomacy. Their violent deaths have stunned their families and residents of Gardena.

November 15, 1992|RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Get down!" someone at the bus stop shouted as a single gunshot was fired from the passing car. Johnson, who police say was not involved in the dispute, was hit in the forehead. He was removed from life support systems that weekend and died.

Crisis counselors at Peary Middle School helped students cope with their grief, Principal Kathy Louie said.

"It was very devastating," she said. "He was a good student. He had good grades and he was in all honors classes."

Patricia Johnson, who was raising Khye on her own, said she firmly believed her son would reach his goals. He had an array of athletic and academic honors, including student body president and student of the year in elementary school. He loved basketball, but hearing of the high salaries that neurosurgeons earn, he decided he would pursue that too.

"The thing is he had the ability," Johnson said, adding that Khye arose an hour early every morning to prepare for class.

He attended the medical magnet school at Markham Middle School, but transferred this year to his home school, Peary, to be closer to friends. He regarded riding the bus as a sign of maturity.

Over the Christmas holiday, Johnson planned to send him to visit his older brother, Rance, a senior at Grambling State University in Louisiana, so he could get a taste of college life.

Now, she said, she is left with the memory of a boy who could make a roomful of adults laugh but, at so early an age, knew well enough to take his education seriously.

"He was everything children should be," Johnson said. "I don't feel angry, like everybody keeps telling me I should feel. I guess that hasn't come yet. I feel lost."

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