A California shooting victim who was shot 36 years ago and left paralyzed died of his injuries this week, renewing efforts by the Sacramento Police Department to find his killers.
Walter Johnson, 62, died from complications of being paralyzed in a shooting on April 9, 1977, the department announced Tuesday in a news release.
Johnson’s death has turned the incident into a homicide investigation, with the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office also involved in the case, police said.
Sacramento Police Department spokeswoman Michele Gigante said she hoped publicity on Johnson’s death will help solve the case.
"Sometimes people have a conscience and want to talk about it over the years," Gigante told the Sacramento Press. "It's still up in the air at this point, but do I think we have a good chance of solving this? Sure."
Johnson was in his mid-20s when he was shot in his upper body as he was driving to his parents’ home.
According to police, three unidentified Hispanic men blocked a stretch of roadway on San Carlos Way between 13th and 14th avenues in Sacramento and walked towards Johnson, who was seated in his car around 3:48 a.m. on April 9, 1977.
Johnson confronted the attackers and a struggle ensued. The men shot Johnson in the upper body, robbed his brown Ford Pinto and fled the scene, police said.
The men were never caught.
Johnson was left paralyzed from the shooting “and as a result developed medical issues which eventually caused his death decades later,” the department said in the statement.
Robbery detectives with the department compiled evidence but the case was never solved, with no suspects being identified in the robbery.
The department is urging anyone with information on the shooting to come forward by calling Crime Alert at 916-443-HELP or by texting tips to 274637 and entering SACTIP followed by the information. Anyone providing tips can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward up to $1,000.