Family says teen didn't have to die

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Published: Jan 30 2012 07:04:05 AM EST   Updated On: Jan 30 2012 01:35:31 PM EST
Family remembers shooting victiim
CUMRU TWP., Pa. -

Family members of a 16-year-old boy who was shot while committing a robbery in Berks County say he didn't have to die.
Julius Johnson was killed and his friend was wounded last week when police say the man they were attacking in Cumru Township shot them both.

In his family's home a single candle burns in memory of Julius Johnson.

It all happened last Wednesday.
 Prosecutors say Johnson, who was already on probation for aggravated assault, robbed two men in West Reading and was attempting to rob a third along a bike path in Cumru Township in Berks County.
But the would-be victim was carrying a licensed firearm, and shot two of his attackers.
Johnson was killed. A friend is now in the hospital.

Johnson's mother,  Idella Hopkins George, said, "Do I believe he was justified in shooting my son? I would say no."

The family acknowledges Johnson's actions were wrong, but they question why a warning shot couldn't have been fired first.

Johnson's sister, Ashley Jones, said, "He's a kid. His actions-- I don't approve of his actions at all, but he didn't deserve to have his life taken."

In recent days a Facebook memorial page has been flooded with sometimes hateful posts -- referring to Johnson as a "thug" who died like the dog he was.
 For his family, dealing with a tragedy and questions about what more they could have done, the words have been painful.