PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – To know Alaejah Johnson was to love her, and they all miss her now.

In the midst of their grief, a Portsmouth family is searching for answers as to how, and why their 22-year-old daughter died.

Alaejah was someone who glowed in life and is still glowing in their hearts.

“Just a happy soul,” said her mom, Mary Johnson. “Anyone who came across Alaejah never forgot her. They never forgot her smile and she would never forget them. She remembered faces!”

Alaejah graduated from Manor High School in 2022. That same year, she went to The Mount Suffolk’s special needs prom, where her dad, Rashed Johnson, described his daughter as the life of the party – “we had a great time,” he said.

“She was labeled special needs, but really and truly, she was here to show us and to be special,” Rashed Johnson said. “She saw the world differently. She saw the world through the eyes of an angel. The love that she put out was genuine.”

The Johnson family was preparing to celebrate their son’s 17th birthday on Feb. 27. As Rashed was carrying in the groceries and birthday cake, someone started shooting.

“As soon as I shut the door, it was a wave of shots just loud banging through the house,” Rashed Johnson said. “The shots come in and it hits her in the head, she goes down. I’m yelling for my wife to call 911. As she’s trying to do that, another set of shots comes through. I’m just trying to hold her and hold her.”

Alaejah’s parents still see the damaged walls, ceiling and TV monitor in their house. They said they have never experienced anything like this, and do not believe they were the intended target.

“It was horrific,” said her dad. “It’s almost as if we’re relearning this process of living because she was a huge part of our family. I wouldn’t want anyone to have to take on this burden.”

Now, when you drive along Allard Road, you will see a memorial for Alaejah.

“That is a symbol for everybody that’s riding past to know that we’re not going to forget what happened,” Rashed Johnson said. “That’s just to bring attention. I hope it pulls at their heart strings if they know something to say something. Step forward because they have to understand this is not just a news clipping [or a] homicide here. A beautiful soul has been lost.”

Her family wants people to know their actions have consequences.

The Johnson family is working with Portsmouth police to try to get leads from the community. Any information or tips may be helpful.

Police have not made any arrests. Officers held a R.E.S.E.T. walk in the area following the incident.
If you have information call 757–393–8536. Or call the Crime Line at 1–888-LOCK-U-UP. You can also reach the Crime Line at TIPS (8477).

“This is our daughter that was taken from us,” Rashed Johnson said. “She was so special to us. This could be anyone’s daughter, wife, sister, brother, whoever. It has far-reaching effects on people’s lives.”