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Friends, family, searchers mourn boy's death: 'It's a shame. I can't believe it'

By Melissa Crowe
March 26, 2012 at 7 p.m.
Updated March 26, 2012 at 10:27 p.m.

Cole Johnson, foreground, the father of Kyler Johnson, helps police search for his missing son in a junkyard on Old Goliad Road. Authorities, volunteers and members of Kyler's family knocked on vehicle trunks and shouted his name for hours before the boy's body was found.

After a 14-hour quest to find a missing boy, search team volunteers grieved the devastating news Monday morning.

Their search was over.

Overwhelmed with grief and shock after news of 4-year-old Kylar Johnson's death, family, friends and volunteers hugged, cried and prayed together.

Search team volunteers, many of whom had never met the Johnson family, offered condolences.

When Terri Ellis, 43, of Victoria, heard about the search that morning through Facebook, she knew she had to help.

"It's his first name," Ellis said. "That's my youngest son's first name."

Ellis, a registered nurse, and her husband, Michael, joined about 100 volunteers, friends and family members in the desperate search for Kylar. Ellis was hopeful. If she had found him, she could help him if he were hurt.

"I knew there'd be a lot of people out here," Ellis said. "It hits close to home."

She said she wants the county to ban aggressive breed animals, such as pit bulls.

"I see no need for them," she said.

Before the news came that the search was over, she said, the atmosphere was "tense, but hopeful."

"Each and every person out here has a different reason to be here," Ellis said. "But in the end, it was all to find Kylar."

Nolin Drouin searched from midnight to 4 a.m. Monday and returned after a few hours to continue looking.

"My wife and I just said, 'We've got to go help,'" he said. "It's a shame. I can't believe it."

Rumors and speculation surrounding Kylar's death swarmed the command center Monday morning. Preliminary autopsy results are expected Tuesday. If confirmed as a pit bull attack, this would be the county's fourth such incident in two weeks.

Lanndon Smith, 27, who lives near the Johnson home, talked with suspicion about it.

"There's something wrong," he said.

Others simply offered support and prayers for the family.

Alfred Sierra, 66, has lived in the neighborhood for about 16 years. He has grandchildren who are Kylar's age.

"We hoped they'd find him all right," Sierra said Monday morning. "I know what it's like to lose a child. The Lord works in mysterious ways."

He said the best Kyler's family can do is stay strong for each other and in their faith.

"There's sorrow and pain, but we've got to hold strong," he said, "and one day all these tears will be washed away."



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