MANASSAS, Va. - Eight months after Michael Gray was murdered outside an Arlington house party, the man accused of killing him is behind bars.
Jason Allen Johnson was picked up in New York City Tuesday after police say he was caught shoplifting. Investigators there soon realized he was wanted for first-degree murder.
"I was starting to lose faith that he would be caught," said Gray's mother, Gretchen Carreiro. "Eight months had passed and still no word."
She said Arlington police detectives came in person to her Manassas home Tuesday to deliver the news.
"It's bittersweet because it won't bring Michael back, but there will be justice for him," Carreiro said.
It was February 19 when 23-year-old Gray was shot and killed as he left the party on North 29th Street in the Williamsburg section of Arlington. Police say a fight earlier in the night led to Johnson targeting Gray as he left.
Johnson, an accused drug dealer and father, has been on the run ever since.
"He ruined my son's life, he took my son's life, but I hate to see his life ruined and his children's life ruined," Carreiro said in tears. "I want to forgive him. I want to forgive because I think my son would forgive him."
Since Gray's death, his family has come to know just how many lives he touched. Friends raised several thousand dollars through a GoFundMe page to increase the reward for information leading to an arrest. About ten people got tattoos with Gray's initials and birthday.
"I just hope everyone carries it on and keeps honoring his memory," said friend Ahmed Baba, who started the GoFundMe page. "Mike Gray's name will be remembered and Jason Allen Johnson's name will not."
"I always knew Michael was a loved person. He had a lot of friends. He was a popular guy," said Russ Carreiro, Gray's father. "But he has so many good friends and so many people who love him and would go to bat for him. I have been really proud that he has had such an effect on people."
Police say Johnson also has an outstanding warrant in District of Columbia Superior Court for Failure to Appear on a Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance - Cocaine