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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Crime

Perfect description helps police find robbery suspect


Talsha Johnson was working on an extra-credit assignment on campus Feb. 4 when she became the victim of an aggravated robbery.

Johnson normally drives to school, but on this day, she carpooled with a friend and was about to call to get picked up. That’s when Brain Christopher Gray, 17, approached her.

“I was calling someone because this was an occasion where someone was picking me up,” she said. “I was calling and he was walking toward me while I was on the phone.”

Johnson did not think Gray would approach her, but once he did and asked to use her phone, she didn’t believe anything was amiss. But after Gray fiddled with the phone for a moment, he pulled out a weapon.

“The gun comes out and of course it shocked me, but I kept my composure,” Johnson said. “I thought, if he wants the phone, he can have the phone. It’s not worth my life.

“He pulled the gun out and said, ‘Now I’m going to have to take the phone.’ And that was when (he told me) I needed (to) walk away.

Johnson walked in the opposite direction and never looked back.

“I didn’t want to turn around because I was afraid if he thought I was looking at him to get a description, he was maybe going to try and shoot me,” she said.

After the robbery, Johnson headed to the Welcome Center and called public safety. She showed police officers where the event took place, and they were able to make out Gray’s description on video surveillance.

The investigating officers involved credited Johnson for giving them a precise description and eventually identifying Gray in a photo spread. For Sgt. Leslie Gremillion, Johnson’s accurate description was key to solving the case.

“She was so precise about her description. She was telling me he had white tennis shoes on with red and black trim,” Gremillion said. “He was wearing a black hand-made jacket and a religious-themed necklace on. He had some skin damage on his face. She drew me a complete mental picture.

“So when I saw him walking across the parking lot with the same tennis shoes on, a black jacket, the necklace and the skin damage, it was clear it was him. She painted a perfect picture. She was the perfect witness.”

Johnson attributes the successful capture to being taught early in life that it is important to remember faces.

“I was always taught when you get in contact with anyone, you make sure you know what that person looks like,” Johnson said. “When I was talking to him it was brief, but it was long enough for me to get a very good description of him,” Johnson said.

Johnson said she feels safe on campus and praised UHPD for keeping her informed of the investigation’s progress.

“The response that I got reassured me that I was going to be taken care of,” she said. “The police were there immediately. They kept me posted the entire time. They let me know step by step.”

Johnson said her religious beliefs have allowed her to not carry the ordeal with her. Instead, it has helped her be wiser of people and her surroundings. She also said she feels justice has been served, but she bears no malice toward Gray.

“All is forgiven, but I am happy that he is where he is,” Johnson said. “If you’re pulling out guns on people you need to be locked up.”

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