Family of teen killed over shoes in Plymouth mourns; suspect appears in court

[anvplayer video=”5149387″ station=”998122″]

For the first time, the family of a teenager who was fatally shot while trying to buy shoes in Plymouth is speaking out.

17-year-old Yaseen Thomas Johnson traveled to a parking lot in Plymouth last week to buy shoes from a private seller. However, after he paid for them, prosecutors say one of the men demanded the shoes back and then shot Johnson three times when he refused to hand them over.

RELATED: Charges: Attempted robbery during shoe sale led to fatal Plymouth shooting

Tuesday afternoon, the alleged shooter, 19-year-old Augustus Matthew Sirleaf faced a judge for the first time. Sirleaf is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the killing of Johnson, whose family members nicknamed “General” after a relative who served in the military.

“General was vegan and wouldn’t even kill an animal, he didn’t deserve to be gunned down like one,” Johnson’s sister wrote, in part, to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

Loved ones described Johnson as funny, friendly and understanding, and his mother said he’d even asked for permission to drive to Plymouth and buy the shoes from someone he didn’t know.

“Yaseen’s death is tragic, not something I or any of our staff will ever forget,” Plymouth Police Chief Erik Fadden told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

The chief says investigators had been working around the clock to try to make arrests in the case.

“This isn’t supposed to happen to anybody, let alone a kid,” Fadden added.

“The family is struggling with the grieving process, of course,” said Jerome Richardson, with Minnesota Teen Activists, a community group that is helping the family.

“We’ve seen an array of gun violence in our communities, I often ask myself, ‘When is this going to end?'” Richardson said.

Johnson is one of three teens shot in about a week across the metro, and Richardson says the accessibility of guns is one of the many issues at play.

“We have this huge war on guns, and access to guns, young people have too much access to guns, we’ve seen too many illegal guns being circulated in our communities,” Richardson said.

Johnson’s family has set up a GoFundMe to raise funds to set up a foundation in his name. That foundation would focus on gun violence, according to the family.

“He wasn’t big on materialisms, I know for a fact he would have given up both the shoes and the money If he knew what it would lead to,” Johnson’s sister said.

Sirleaf had his bail set at $1 million without conditions or $250,000 with conditions. His next hearing is scheduled for Dec. 19.