By JAMIE PAIGE
It’s a troubling story –two people shot in the head while sleeping in their Venice home last Thursday night. And, although specifics are not yet being released by the Los Angeles Police Department, the uncle of one of the victims, Courtney Johnson, is speaking out and saying, “enough is enough.”
Police were called to investigate the death of 31-year-old Brandon Neal and 30-year-old Johnson who were killed in the home on Berkley Drive sometime between last Thursday night and Friday morning. Both deaths have been ruled a homicide by the Los Angeles Medical Examiner’s office.
Steve Brown, the uncle of Johnson said her death has shaken a family who has already experienced tragedy. “The family fell on hard times in 2003 when Courtney’s older sister passed away from diabetes. After that, everything fell apart for the family,” Brown said. “The family was what you would call a white picket fence family—but her death really impacted them.”
Brown said that’s when Courtney began struggling with addiction.
“She was trying everything from heroin to cocaine to fentanyl,” he said. “The family did what they could to help her. We all tried. We tried to stay on top of it. Her brother tried, her mother tried. At one point I had to cut her off. But it was because we all loved her. The drugs started to get to her brain and then she started to have mental issues.”
Still, Brown says –Courtney was one of the most loving and creative people he knew. “She had a heart of gold and was a fantastic artist who had a way with poetry,” described Brown.
‘Enough is enough’
Brown has lived in Venice for more than 45 years. He too struggled with addiction but has been sober for 14 years. Brown lives in his car near the Venice Senior Center and works with a group of unhoused people to make sure the area is kept clean and safe. “I do this in honor of my wife who loved this park. She used to volunteer here when the [senior] center was open.”
Today, Brown says he struggles with what is being allowed to happen in the community. “I’m angry this is what our community has become. Crime has gotten so rampant because of all this woke nonsense. We voted our way into this mess–we need to vote our way out.”
Although he’s not blaming the Los Angeles Police Department– Brown says he does blame people who “tie their hands and does not let them do their jobs.”
“We have to put a stop to this. I’ve been here forty-five years. I’ve seen this place in every incarnation that it’s been, and I’ve never seen things this bad. You go over to the [Abbot Kinney Branch Memorial] Library, and it’s destroyed. I understand homelessness, but it doesn’t give you the right to be a slob and it doesn’t give you the right to take everything that isn’t nailed down because you feel you’re entitled.”
“We need to start making thing uncomfortable for theses addicts,” Brown added. “They won’t stay around if things aren’t easy. Addicts don’t like being uncomfortable.”
On top of worrying about police arresting who committed the crime, Brown said he’s also worried whoever did it won’t be punished for the severity of the crime.
“They took a life, but if they are juveniles [Los Angeles County District Attorney] George Gascon’s new policies mean they will walk when they turn 25 years old,” he said.
“A lot of people say they are scared. Well, how long do we have to let this carry on. This is an election year. Let’s turn this around. Let’s make something good out of this tragedy and stop future ones from happening,” said Brown.
“Enough is enough.”
The family has set up a go fund me page for Courtney’s funeral expenses—you can click here to learn more.
The story was published in partnership with Westside Current.