Mother hopes late son’s life lives on through his music

Justin Johnson wrote songs about his life on the East Side and succeeding in his music career

SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio mother is hoping her son’s life lives on through his music after he was fatally shot in July.

Bertha Moreno said her son, Justin Johnson, 28, had plans of becoming a star and one day buying her a house with his music career.

“He wasn’t a perfect child,” Moreno said. “Of course, nobody has a perfect child but when my husband died October 2019, he was at the rosary and swore he was going to come home and take care of us.”

She said Johnson was focused.

“He would go to work and come back home and then go back to work and come back home,” Moreno said. “He was a hardworking man.”

Johnson’s music meant the world to him.

“I have no idea where he got this passion for music,” Moreno laughed. “But he was great at it. He loved it. He was always writing and making music in his room. It came from his heart. It was all about his life and he wasn’t shy about it. One of his lyrics was, ‘Sun doesn’t shine in stormy weather.’ I guess it was about how he was trying to get back on track. You will just have to listen to him and hear what he had to say.”

Sadly, on the day Johnson was murdered, Moreno was right there with him.

“It was an altercation,” Moreno said. “They got into it but the fight was broken up already. JJ was standing right in front of me.”

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Moreno said they thought everything had calmed down but then, things escalated.

“We didn’t think anything was going to happen and JJ was trying to calm down and then I heard the blast of the bullet and I felt it go through my hair and it hit JJ in the chest,” Moreno said. “He turned and fell face forward.”

She said she and her neighbors tried everything but it was too late.

“All you had to do was just go away,” She said through tears referring to the alleged gunman, Isaac Sandoval. “You didn’t have to shoot him. We really need him here. You just took something big from us and that is hard.”

Sandoval was captured a few blocks away from where the shooting happened and is still in the Bexar County Jail on a first-degree murder charge.

Johnson leaves behind family, friends, loved ones and strangers he touched with his music.

“The day after his death, people began coming here, and building this memorial,” Moreno said. “Nobody asked them to do this but that let me know my son was doing something right.”

He also leaves behind his 5-year-old daughter.

“She is taking it hard,” Moreno said. “She’ll be fine for a few minutes and then all of a sudden she just breaks down and she likes to be out here writing her little notes to her dad.”

Moreno said his daughter is also musically talented like her father. She said he just released a song this month that she hopes will one day be played on the radio.

“I want him to be a star,” Moreno said. “He is not here but his lyrics are still alive. They came from his heart. They are deep.”

She said she hopes her son’s death serves as a lesson to others.

“Don’t take that split second to take some else’s life because you not only ruined our lives but you ruined your life,” Moreno said.

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About the Authors:

Japhanie Gray is a reporter with KSAT12 News.