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Justice for Damario: Family of man shot at Federal Way nightclub seeks answers

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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - It was Damario Johnson's first night working security at Cafe Arizona on S. 320th Street in Federal Way when he was shot early Thanksgiving morning.

"I don't know who shot me. I don't know what they look like because my back was turned," the 26-year-old SeaTac man said from his hospital bed at Harborview Medical Center.

The bullet hit his lower spine.

"Right now, I can't walk. I'm a paraplegic," said Johnson.

He says there were about 50 people in their 30s and 40s in the nightclub when some kind of altercation broke out.

"It escalated from inside to outside ... everybody is bickering and arguing," he said.

When it was over, Johnson was standing outside in front of the doors next to the other security guards.  He was shot in the back.

"Once I hit the ground, my legs instantly went numb," he said.

Johnson has gone over the hours leading up to the shooting numerous times and says he didn't have any issues with the patrons.  He can't figure out why or even if he was targeted.

"I'm crying: I don't want to die. Don't let me die. Don't let me die, Please don't let me die, I've got family. It's Thanksgiving. It's Thanksgiving morning," Johnson said.

A nurse who happened to be there helped support his head, along with a security guard who stayed by his side.

"I am so grateful for him," Johnson said. "He kept holding my hand and saying, 'breathe, breathe, breathe, you are going to be OK.'"

Police are asking for the public's help to solve the case because the witnesses were uncooperative and the club has no security cameras.

"There's nothing I could say to describe what it's like seeing my baby brother in a bed and he can't get up," said Johnson's older brother, Michael Mack.

He wants justice for Damario.

"People got this thing in the neighborhood, 'I don't want to be no snitch,'" Mack said. "I understand that. You don't want to be a tattletale, but put yourself in my position. You would want answers."

The community has been rallying around Damario since the shooting. A Go Fund Me page has raised more than $4,000, but their goal is $25,000 to help in his long recovery.

Damario and mom Sue Ellen Johnson

Keli Johnson is a family spokesperson who went before the Federal Way city council Tuesday night to call for the club's closure.

"They have to be able to provide a safe place for people to come to ,and if they can't do that especially of they are serving alcohol at night, it wasn't safe," she said.

Nobody from Cafe Arizona could be reached for comment. Federal Way police say there have been two calls for violence there in the last two years: One for an assault and the other for Damario's shooting.

"Really, what's been helping me so far is all the love that I've been getting," Johnson said.

The first week, he wasn't sure he wanted to go on living. But now, he's looking forward to starting physical therapy - and to getting justice.

"How am I going to sleep peacefully if I know the man who shot me is still running the streets?" he said.

Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound is offering a cash reward of up to a $1,000 for a tip that leads to an arrest and I will personally donate another $1,000 to raise the reward amount to up to $2,000. Submit an anonymous tip at or call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

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