If Robert Johnson had his way, funeral services for his son would be held outside at Third and Kerlin streets in Chester, where he was fatally shot a week ago today.
That way, the longtime pastor said, strangers would truly see – and for some, might even feel – the devastation of close-knit family and friends over the death of 31-year-old Robert Allen Payne.
“I’ve attended many funerals in this city. I have been acquainted with sorrow, and with the sorrow of others, but I have never been acquainted with grief like this,” said Johnson, a resident of Clayton, Del., who serves as chaplain of the Chester Fire Department and ministers at Agape Christian Fellowship in Claymont, Del.
“Never in my wildest imagination did I ever think he would be assassinated. I was told there were about 30 rounds and he was shot seven times … with an AK47 (type) weapon … To mutilate someone’s body the way he was because of mistaken identity and then to just say, ‘Oops.’
“They didn’t just shoot up an entire car. They shot at him,” the 59-year-old father said through his tears last week, the day before he was scheduled to identify his son by photograph at the Delaware County Medical Examiner’s office. “Our world has been shattered for the rest of our lives because someone decided to do something horrific and horrible to an innocent individual. If my son died in his sleep that would be one thing, or if he succumbed to illness that would be another. But to die a horrible death, I can only imagine what he thought when they pulled up to his vehicle and he saw a gun pointed at him.”
According to police, Payne, of the 1900 block of West Fourth Street in Chester, was found in the driver’s seat of his running white Crown Victoria near the corner of Third and Kerlin streets about 7 p.m. on July 4. Unresponsive with multiple gunshot wounds to his head and body, Payne was pronounced dead at the scene.
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