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Murdered youth mentor remembered for impact on the community

Mentor leaves behind a legacy
Johnny Purchase.png
Posted at 5:22 PM, Jan 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 17:22:16-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Johnny Purchase, affectionately known by many as ‘Mr. Johnny,’ died on Jan. 12 after he was shot and killed outside of the New Bridges Apartments.

Purchase’s son, Jonathan, says his father worked hard to help connect at-risk youth with resources, he was doing just that at the time of the shooting.

Friends, family, law enforcement, and community leaders gathered on Monday to talk about Purchase and the legacy he left behind.

The celebration of life was held at the Edna Martin Christian Center, where Purchase did most of his work with young people.

“He would go out and find young people that were going towards the darkness and put them on a better path,” Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said.

Purchase also worked with Employ Indy as part of their Yes Indy program. He was a re-engagement facilitator. Purchase would engage with young people who were disconnected from education or the workforce and help present them with other opportunities and put them on a positive path.

“He was what we call a re-engagement facilitator. One of the frontline individuals who connected with young people and shared with them his story and his wisdom and encourage them to seize the opportunity that is in front of them. And he was good at it,” Rodney Francis, chief programs officer with Employ Indy, said.

Jonathan Purchase says he wants people to remember the important work his father did.

“We want to make sure we continue to do what he was doing within the community and if you can do anything try and save a life, keep his name alive and keep serving the community,” Jonathan Purchase said.

The message at Monday’s celebration of life was loud, that Mr. Johnny will not be forgotten and that his work must continue.

“You know anytime we have a murder in Indianapolis it's bad. Doesn’t matter what the person was involved in. It’s a soul that’s left the community… but in this case we had a man that was trying to make things better," IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said. "This is not a defeat. Mr. Johnny went out on a victory making a difference. He’s going to be remembered for that. His work has to continue. We have to continue to make things better in the community.”

Anyone with information on Purchase's death are asked to call Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana at 317-262-TIPS.