ELKHART — No one saw this coming from Danzele Johnson.
Johnson, 21, was shot and killed Thursday, Oct. 3, during what police are calling a home invasion incident on Frances Avenue.
A 2009 NorthWood High School graduate, Johnson, according to friends, was a likeable, funny young man who couldn’t be seen as having his life ended through violence.
Those friends are now at a loss for words to explain what may have happened recently in life.
“I knew Danzele through the track team and he was one of those kids who saw a way out of circumstances and situations in life,’’ said Mark Mikel. “He had an opportunity to change the stratus of his life, but he wasn’t able to fulfill that.”
Larone Smith, a 2010 Concord High graduate and a student at Anderson University, wouldn’t believe the news when he first heard of the shooting and spent most of Thursday trying to confirm facts with friends.
Johnson, according to Smith, was like a brother to him.
“I had seen all the comments on Facebook and I couldn’t handle it. I didn’t want to believe it until certain people finally told me that yes, this happened,’’ Smith said. “We pretty much know people through football and people I hang out with ... friends of mine were friends of his. We kicked it, talked a lot, laughed a lot.
“It hurts. I thought deep down, it couldn’t have been him.”
Taylor Anglemyer, a 2012 NorthWood graduate and freshman at Manchester College, was a freshman in high school when Johnson was a senior. The two later became friends when Johnson returned to Panther games and workouts.
“He was the kid of guy that was friends with everybody,’’ said Anglemyer, “and he could always bring a smile to one’s face.
“Good man, bad decision,’’ he said.
When Katie Schaffer, another 2012 NWHS grad, was a freshman, Johnson was protective of her when he was a gym class assistant.
“I knew him before school when he played football with my brother, Kent, but he looked out for me the whole first year,’’ Katie said. “He’d randomly text me, ask me if things were OK. He was like a big brother.”
The news of Johnson’s death hit Coy Brown especially hard.
Brown, a freshman linebacker for Bowling Green State University’s football team and former Panther All-Stater, said Johnson wanted nothing but the best for his friends and family.
“People who don’t know him, he was a kid who was always smiling,’’ Brown said. “He wasn’t a bad kid. He made some bad decisions.
“It’s just sad and unfortunate for the whole community and people who were close to him.”
“I didn’t anticipate something like this,” Mikel said. “One bad decision ... that’s what I want to believe about Danzele.”