Police: Man arrested in 2015 mistaken identity murder of Knoxville teen

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KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A suspect has been arrested in the 2015 shooting death of a Knoxville teenager that police say was a case of mistaken identity.

Jeffery Stokes, 30, is charged with first degree murder and reckless endangerment in the death of Alan Johnson, 19. Stokes was arrested Thursday during a traffic stop on Gaston Avenue. An indictment was obtained earlier this week.Previous story:Family wants justice for teenager shot, killed in East Knoxville

Johnson had just gotten off work on December 12, 2015, and was walking home when he was shot on E. 5th Avenue and Elmwood. Johnson is the nephew of SEEED Executive Director Stan Johnson.

“No matter what happens, we can’t get him back,” said Stan Johnson. “Waiting and not knowing is always hard because you don’t know what to do.”

Police say Alan Johnson was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but couldn’t give any further details about why the shooting happened. They said Stokes has gang ties, but Alan Johnson did not, so the two did not know each other.

“It was a case of mistaken identity. Stokes thought he was someone else and unfortunately [Johnson] died as a result of this action,” said Darrell DeBusk with the Knoxville Police Department.

Stan Johnson said his nephew had just moved to Knoxville, hoping to get away from all the violence in Boston, Massachusetts.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said DeBusk. “He was doing what he was supposed to be doing, he was going to school, he was working. He was coming home from work, minding his own business and unfortunately someone just took his life.”

“None of that matters to me. My nephew is gone. The only solace that we have is that he’s with the Lord,” said Stan Johnson.

The Johnsons feel like Alan tried outrunning his fate, but at the same time they’re hoping the community finds solutions to stop gun violence.

“My work makes me angry about the whole process because we know what we’re doing here at SEEED can actually help stop some of these violent crimes,” added Stan Johnson. “We need to double down and make sure that his life doesn’t go in vain.”

Stokes’ criminal history includes a number of drug charges over the years in Knoxville and Knox County. In February 2006, Stokes was arrested and faced a weapons charge and reckless endangerment because shots were fired that hit a home with people inside.

Stokes is being held in the Roger D. Wilson Detention Facility.

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