CLEVELAND (WJW) — Investigators say a carjacking attempt may have led an undercover federal drug agent to shoot a man, sending him to the hospital.
The agent says he fired after the man brandished a gun, but the suspect’s family tells a much different story.
The mother of 20-year-old Trayvon Johnson says, at last check, her son was in surgery at University Hospitals Wednesday evening.
Cleveland police are investigating the shooting, which involved an undercover agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration conducting an operation on the city’s east side.
“The agent was in the car, two individuals approached him brandishing — one brandishing a weapon and the agent jumped out of the car and gunfire,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Martin.
Special Agent Martin says federal drug agents in plain clothes were conducting an undercover operation near East 82nd Street and Decker Avenue Wednesday afternoon.
“We believe unrelated to the operation, two subjects approached one of the DEA agents, brandishing a weapon at which time the agent felt threatened and there was gunfire exchanged and the subject was hit; the agent was not struck by any gunfire,” Martin said.
At least one agent was inside a white SUV.
“It may have been a carjacking, robbery; we just don’t know,” Martin said.
Dozens of agents from various departments, including Cleveland police, the ATF and the Ohio State Highway Patrol rushed to the scene.
“My nephew pulled up in a black car. When he got out the car, that man came out his car and didn’t say nothing and just started shooting — pow, pow, pow,” said the injured suspect’s uncle, Theodore Johnson.
Relatives identify the 20-year-old who was shot as Trayvon Johnson, who lives on the block where the incident happened. Johnson’s family says he had just been dropped off at home after going to the store.
“We were sitting here wondering what that white car was ’cause we were watching it, so all of a sudden, my nephew come home and pulled up right there. My nephew got out the car, the guy got out the car and shot him right there in the street,” said the uncle.
“He was holding his stomach and I said ‘what’s going on’ and they had shot him,” said Diana Johnson, Trayvon’s mother.
“My son just got out the car and all the video will show is him running from him shooting at him and they only gonna get his bullet casing because my son didn’t shoot back,” she said.
Cleveland police will handle the investigation into the incident. Chief Calvin Williams is urging the community not to jump to conclusions until they uncover all of the facts.
“We’re asking our community, basically make sure that we can have room to complete this investigative process and like Agent Martin says, once we’re done, everything will be known to everybody,” said Chief Williams.
Special Agent Martin says the undercover agents applied first aid to Johnson and packed his wound until he was taken to the hospital.
The DEA says their undercover operation involved a different person, and Trayvon Johnson’s family insists that he did not point a weapon.