JACKSON, Miss. - James "Jimmy" Johnson, a 56-year-old B.A.S.S. angler competing in the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open tournament on Ross Barnett Reservoir this week, was shot to death Sunday night at a motel in Jackson, police confirmed.
Jackson Police Department spokesperson Colendula Green said Johnson, of Ganado, Texas, was fatally shot at the Motel 6 at 7145 Interstate Hwy. 55 North in Jackson, where he and his wife were staying during the tournament.
Police received the call at 7:48 p.m. Sunday. Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene. Green told Bassmaster.com the incident is being investigated as a homicide, and police are looking for a black male who appeared on security cameras at the motel.
Details are limited as the investigation continues, but Chris Bowes, senior tournament manager for the Bassmaster Opens, said he received a call from a friend of Johnson's Sunday night saying that Johnson had discovered someone apparently burglarizing his bass boat. The shooting occurred after that.
"Jimmy was a terrific angler, as he has shown through the Bassmaster Opens," Bowes said. "More than that, he was a tremendous guy. He will be deeply missed."
Bowes plans to observe moments of silence at points during the tournament this week to remember Johnson, who ranked 11th in the Central Opens standings after two events.
"We were shocked and saddened to learn late Sunday night that Jimmy Johnson, one of the anglers registered to compete in the Central Open tournament on Ross Barnett Reservoir, was killed while staying in a motel near the lake,” Bruce Akin, B.A.S.S. CEO, said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as the bass fishing community rallies around them."
Johnson was an active member of the B.A.S.S. Nation, according to Jon Stewart, B.A.S.S. Nation director.
"Jimmy was a huge B.A.S.S. Nation supporter, not only fishing all the B.A.S.S. Nation events in Texas and qualifying for a couple of B.A.S.S. Nation Championships, but also volunteering his time anytime B.A.S.S. was in town. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, and the entire Texas B.A.S.S. Nation," Stewart said.
Bassmaster.com will continue to monitor developments in the investigation as it continues.