• 46°

Owner of children’s barber shop shot to death at work

JACKSON (AP) — The owner of a children’s barber shop in Mississippi was shot to death Friday at work.

Jackson police said Johnny Brown, 49, was shot multiple times at Just For Kids Barbershop. He died at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Officers were searching for a suspect who fled in a white Chevrolet Suburban.

Brown was the 27th person killed in Mississippi’s capital city this year.

The Clarion-Ledger reported that Brown and one of his longtime friends, Chuck Wansley, ran a mentoring program for young people. They would talk with Jackson middle school counselors and principals to identify troubled students in the public schools.

“They want structure in their lives, point them in the right direction,” Brown told the newspaper in 2013. “Most of these kids don’t have a strong male figure in their lives.”

Through the program, kids would do schoolwork and then get to work in the barbershop.

“Most of the kids get serious about their schoolwork,” Brown had told The Clarion-Ledger. “Hook up a kid with a mentor they can talk to whenever they want. Bond in the school setting and establish a rapport. Then hit the barbershop.

“Mentoring is not just for a day or a weekend. Mentoring is forever.”

On Friday, a small group of young men stood in the parking lot near shards of glass on the pavement. Bullets had torn holes in the shop’s front door, next to a sign that reads: “No weapons allowed.” The young men held their heads down, some taking deep drags from cigarettes. Pointing at them, Wansley said, “He raised those guys.”

Dr. Earnest Rankin has a clinic a few doors down from Just for Kids Barbershop. Last week, vandals removed Rankin’s back door.

“It’s kind of close to home,” Rankin said. “It’s scary.”

Rankin said he was devastated by Brown’s death.

“He was a community guy,” Rankin said. “He would take the kids in, the young boys, and cut their hair and try to get them straight, get them to play baseball and stuff like that. He was a pretty decent guy.”