INDIANAPOLIS — A Purdue Polytechnic High School student was shot and killed Saturday night on the east side of Indianapolis.

Family have identified the student as 17-year-old James Johnson III.

He was found in critical condition following a shooting on Lowell Avenue around 10:30 p.m. Saturday. He later died at Riley Hospital.

“We should not be here outliving our son,” James Johnson II said. “It goes to show anything can happen when weapons are around.”

James Johnson II said he is still mourning his son, but that he also takes pride in the legacy the young man leaves behind.

“I couldn’t ask for a better son,” he said. “I wish we could have seen him as a grown man because we put so much into him.”

The teen was affectionately known as the 317 Fruit Man because he sold fruit to under-served and underprivileged communities

“He really wanted to be an entrepreneur and these last few years he’s been into food science,” said Johnson II.

“I hope he’s remembered as a charismatic young man with a smile on his face that lights up a room,” said Latoya Martin, the victim’s mother.

While police won’t confirm a motive for the shooting, some witnesses have claimed it was an accident. The teen’s family said he was simply hanging out with friends, but they still don’t know why he was killed.

“He was at a place he should have felt safe,” Martin said. “He was at a place he would not expect his life to be taken.”

“He was one of those kids that you’re a better man because of him,” said Purdue Polytechnic head coach Aaron Story.

James’s basketball coach at Purdue Polytechnic praised the energy and effort the teen always brought to practice. He said the city would be a better place with more young men like James.

“You’d chew a kid like James out and afterward you’d think man I love that kid,” said Story.  “Basketball is just a tool to build community and we have guys that hurt because they miss their brother.”

So far no arrests have been made in this case.

Anyone with information about this incident is being asked to contact Detective Michael Wright at the IMPD Homicide Office at (317) 327-3475 or e-mail him at

The school also set up a fund to help the victim’s family. Contributions will go directly to the Martin and Johnson families to cover medical and funeral arrangement expenses: James Johnson III memorial fund.