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Man left paralyzed after armed robbery in ’70s dies, police seeking new leads

Man left paralyzed after armed robbery in '70s dies, police seeking new leads

The city’s fourth homicide of the year stems from a shooting that occurred 36 years ago in Oak Park, which left a man paralyzed until he died Monday of complications.

Walter Johnson, 62, died of medical complications that arose from being paralyzed after a shooting in 1977. The shooting occurred April 9, 1977, at about 3:48 a.m., at San Carlos Way between 13th and 14th Avenues.

Johnson was driving to his parents’ home when he was approached by three Hispanic men, who blocked the roadway with their car at the intersection, according to the Sacramento Police Department.

The men walked toward Johnson, who was seated in his car, and confronted him. A struggle ensued and Johnson was shot in the upper body. The suspects then robbed Johnson and fled in a red or brown Ford Pinto, according to the SPD. The suspects have never been apprehended for this crime.

Robbery detectives assigned to the case collected and booked evidence, and follow-up was done, but the case was never solved and no suspects were identified in the robbery/shooting, police say. 

Johnson was left paralyzed by the gunshot wound and developed medical issues as a result, which ultimately caused his death 36 years later.

While it’s been a while since the crime occurred, police remain optimistic that the case can be solved.

"Sometimes people have a conscience and want to talk about it over the years," SPD Spokeswoman Michele Gigante said. She said advances in technology may shed light on the evidence collected at the time, and police will be re-contacting possible witnesses.

"It’s still up in the air at this point, but do I think we have a good chance of solving this? Sure," Gigante said.  

The SPD is asking for the public’s help in solving the case, and has provided the following information: 

Sacramento Police Case number: 77-16571
Sacramento County Coroner’s Case: 13-00961

The Sacramento Police Department urges anyone with information pertaining to this 1977 crime to contact Crime Alert at (916) 443-HELP (4357) or text in a tip to 274637 (CRIMES). Enter SACTIP followed by the tip information. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.    

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