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Ganado man shot, killed while at fishing tourney

By Jessica Priest
Oct. 14, 2013 at 5:14 a.m.
Updated Oct. 15, 2013 at 5:15 a.m.

James "Jimmy" Johnson at last year's Bass Pro Shops' Bassmaster Central Open tournament on the Ross Barnett Reservoir. He was in first place on the first day.

How To Help

If you have information about this homicide, call the Jackson Police Department at 601-355-TIPS.

James "Jimmy" Johnson was a legendary and universal fisherman, said his friend, Jimmy Burns, owner of the Waterloo Rod Company USA in Victoria.

"Customers would come through here and ask, 'Is Jimmy Johnson fishing?' They knew he was the guy to beat. He was top notch," Burns said.

Johnson, 56, was shot and killed Sunday night while in Jackson, Miss.

He was there to compete for a third time in the Bass Pro Shops' Bassmaster Central Open tournament on the Ross Barnett Reservoir. He was ranked 11th after two events.

A man attempted to rob Johnson in the parking lot of a Motel 6 at 6145 Interstate 55 North, said Colendula Green, a Jackson Police Department public information officer.

An altercation ensued, and the man shot Johnson in the face. Johnson was pronounced dead when officers arrived on the scene at 7:48 p.m., Green said.

Surveillance cameras posted at the motel show one suspect, a man wearing a red shirt and dark pants, she said.

Green said officers are canvassing the area for information about the shooting death.

"I'm sure a lot of people heard it (the shooting), but we're hoping that someone saw something that will help us bring some closure to the family," she said.

Burns heard things happened differently Sunday.

Johnson arrived a few days early to practice. He had just checked into the hotel and showered, Burns said.

"He went outside and confronted a guy who was breaking into his truck and boat. (The man) pulled a gun on him and shot him," Burns said.

Burns was looking Monday night at a photograph of Johnson taken on the first day of the same tournament last year. Johnson described that day, the day he was No. 1, as the "happiest day of his life."

"My employees, they are all young high school kids, and they look up to him as an idol. This has been hard on them," he said.

Burns met Johnson about 12 years ago when he came into the shop to purchase customized fishing rods. He liked them to be lightweight and sensitive.

It wasn't a big deal for Johnson to drive from one tournament to another one 12 hours away during the same weekend, Burns said.

"He worked a lot of hours in the oil field and saved all his overtime and all his money to go fish," he said.

Johnson's longtime fishing partner, Craig Crim, of Victoria, said he leaves behind his wife, Mona. The two have about six dachshunds.

"Why he put up with me, I'll never know," Crim said.

He thought it was because one of Johnson's dogs liked him.

Crim said Johnson could assess the conditions of a lake he'd never fished on quickly.

"He was always the boss. I just got in the back of the boat and did what I could," he said. "Sometimes, I'd give suggestions, and if they worked out, well, that was good, too."

They once caught 30 pounds of fish in 30 minutes, he said.

Johnson's friend, Rick Shock, 60, also of Victoria, agreed the world has lost the "Johnny Manziel of fishing."

Johnson has held the record for catching heaviest large mouth bass from Coleto Creek for 10 years and holds many, many other awards as well, Shock said.

"He had a passion for that sport that I've never seen," Shock said. "He didn't deserve this."

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