County holds vigil for victims - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

County holds vigil for victims

Americus- It's still hard for Janie Carter Jackson to talk about what happened on July 10, 2003.

"Probably two o'clock in the morning I heard a noise, and someone was banging on my window," she says.

That someone was her ex-boyfriend Keith Johnson. While he tried to find a way into he house, Jackson ran into the room where her then eight and fifteen year old sons were sleeping and called police.

"When he came in he already had the gun pointed. I didn't know what to do, so I just started fighting him, even though he had a gun," Jackson says.

Her eldest son wouldn't leave his mother's side and hit Johnson with a bat. He fired back with his gun.

"When he pulled the trigger I actually hit the gun, and it went down lower than what was expected I guess, and that's how he got shot in the leg."

Johnson beat her and held Jackson hostage for nearly six hours. It was a situation law enforcers knew could be fatal.

"We were anticipating that her attacker was going to show the same violence towards law enforcement. We were hopeful it wouldn't be, but we were prepared for a very violent ending to the situation," says Americus Police Chief James Green, who was a lieutenant working at the department then.

By the grace of God Janie Carter Jackson says she and her sons got out alive. At a special vigil Sumter County law enforcers and victim's assistance agencies paid tribute to survivors like her and remembered those who lost their lives.

"We've laid down the training program so actually the healing process starts with the 9-1-1 call," Green says.

This year's Crime Victims Rights Week highlighted 25 agencies and how they work together to give others their lives back.

"I would like to think that I'm back to my old self now," Jackson says.

That's something the 38 year old single mother says she would have never been able to do without dozens of officers, deputies, and legal advocates that she now calls her friends.

"It took me a while to get back to being me, and just knowing the everybody was supporting me, and everybody was there for me it helped a whole lot."

It's a debt Jackson plans to repay by helping other victims like herself.

Janie Carter Jackson's attacker, Keith Johnson, was sentenced to 25 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

After being shot in the leg, Jackson's son Xavier, is doing well and will graduate from high school next year.

Posted at 6:10 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com