Tyler Johnson: A quiet friend with a vibrant mind
Family and friends say the McMaster student, who was killed near Hess Village, had a bright future
When Tyler Johnson started a summer job at Robertson Building Systems, he was doing a different kind of drafting from what he was used to, but he picked it up anyway.
It was 2008, and the young man was attending Mohawk College, says family friend Vince Pontrelli, who helped Johnson get the job. But he was studying mechanical drafting, not construction building drafting.
That didn’t matter. Johnson was eager to learn, a quick study and “a great guy,” Pontrelli said. He did so well that he was hired back for three more summers.
“He would have progressed” into a good career, Pontrelli said. “He would have been an asset to a company. He would have been good for society.”
The McMaster University engineering student won’t get the chance now. The 30-year-old was gunned down on Nov. 30 in front of a pita restaurant at King Street West and Caroline Street near Hess Village. It's the same parking lot where an 18-year-old was stabbed to death in September.
Police say Johnson’s shooting wasn’t random but have released no other details. His funeral is Friday.
One after the other, friends and family described him Thursday as kind and good with kids, and with a brain that sparkled with ideas. Johnson attended Cathedral Secondary School and was an honours student in mechanical engineering at McMaster. He planned to pursue a masters degree.
“He was just a smart dude. Very smart,” said Sandy Pereira, who counts Johnson as a close family friend. He was like an uncle to her four children, she said, and encouraged all of them to stay in school.
“He used to help my daughter with her homework. English, math, everything,” she said.
His influence “plays a big part in my daughter’s decisions and where she wants to go in life.”
Corwin Weeks described Johnson as a quiet friend with a lively mind. They met through a mutual friend in 2005, and Weeks laughs a little when he describes his first impression.
“Intimidating,” he said Thursday. “He always had that straight face.”
“He was a quiet guy, but whenever he spoke, he always had something to say. Whatever he said had an impact on me.”
“He didn’t come up from much, but he showed us to follow our dreams,” Weeks said. “He went on to university, to become an honours student. I can only imagine doing something like that. He always had a lot on his mind and he was going to do something with it.”
The grief is heavy among Johnson's family and friends, and they are left hoping for justice. Jim Lewis, Johnson's uncle, describes him as "a good kid. A fantastic kid."
Whoever pulled the trigger “has not only ruined our family, but he’s ruined his own. It’s just a stupid thing to do.”
Johnson is survived his mom, Linda.
Hamilton police ask anyone with information on the shooting, particularly people there that night, to call them at 905-546-4123 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.