Police Plead for Help in Solving Latest Crime, Including Murder of DISD Trustee's Son

Dallas police are making a public plea for help to solve the city's latest murders.

The son of Dallas ISD board trustee, Maxie Johnson, was gunned down in East Oak Cliff early Thursday morning.

Police say the victim is 21-year-old Christopher Whitfield.

Whitfield was near his mother's home when he was shot in the 3600 block of Utah Avenue at around 1:30 a.m.

Police held a press conference Thursday afternoon where DPD said they do not have a suspect or motive for the shooting.

Some neighbors report hearing several gunshots.

"I don't know, people just gone crazy I guess," said resident Carl Layne.

A somewhat familiar sound shook neighbors like Layne out of bed early Thursday morning.

"All I heard was 8 to 10 shots," he said. "I didn't even look up because like I said it's on a regular basis."

When the shots stopped, there was a young man in the street with a gunshot to the chest.

The shooting happened just feet from Marina Vasquez' bedroom window.

She said she rolled off her bed and crawled away.

Police said a family friend went to the victim's mother's home to report he had been shot.

At one point Vasquez saw a woman arriving on the scene frantically trying to revive the victim.

Police would not confirm whether the woman was Whitfield's mother.

Whitfield was rushed to the hospital where he later died.

Whitfield's father was elected to the school board in May and represents district five which includes a large section of South Oak Cliff.

Johnson is also a well know pastor who has long fought to improve South Oak Cliff High School.

"Trustee Johnson and his family, the mother, are both teachers both educators," said family friend Dominique Alexander.

The community activist is calling on the city to create a task force to tackle the growing spike in violence across Dallas.

He says the 21-year-old was proud of his family and had dreams he wanted to accomplish too.

"He was very excited about his dad just getting elected school board trustee. He was excited about his brother going off to college. He's been excited about his nephew his sister just had. He was full of joy," said Alexander.

At the center For Oak Cliff, the work continues on the heels of tragedy that hits so close to home.

Michael Berry says being at the center stuffing backpacks helps him cope with the pain of losing his friend.

“When I first got the news I couldn’t believe it,” said Berry.

He says their friendship ran deep.

“As time went on and we got older we became more and more close and grew as brothers. But instead of using the word friend or homie, we used brother,” he said.

When it comes to finding an end to the violence gripping Dallas, some don't see it as a policing issue alone.

“You grew up in this community. You were born in this community. You’re still seeing the same things going on. Nothing has changed," said Berry.

"I don't even know if more police would help," said Layne.

Alexander is also pleading for the community to step up with information to solve murders like this.

"Please stop not saying something when something hits in our community," he said.

Johnson had just posted a message on his public Facebook page expressing shock and sadness regarding the shooting death of a 9-year-old girl in Old East Dallas.

A mere hours later, tragedy struck his own family in Oak Cliff.

In a tweet, DISD board trustee Miguel Solis said Johnson is the 'epitome of a great father' who put his heart and soul into raising his kids.

Dallas police said the area where the shooting happened is known for gang activity and police have been deployed several times.

However, police added that it is not known what led to the shooting.

Detectives would like to speak with the family friend who reported the shooting to the victim's mother. 

That person left the scene before officers arrived, according to police.

Police said they have not yet been able to recover any home surveillance video that may have captured the murder, but officers will be returning to canvass the neighborhood again.

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