A Texas bass fisherman in Mississippi to fish a B.A.S.S. tournament was shot and killed Sunday night after confronting a man who was allegedly vandalizing his boat in a motel parking lot, Jackson police said.
James “Jimmy” Johnson, 56, of Ganano, Texas, was scheduled to compete in the Bassmaster Central Open to be held Thursday through Saturday on nearby Barnett Reservoir.
Bassmaster.com confirmed the death in a media release.
“We were shocked and saddened to learn late Sunday night that Jimmy Johnson was killed while staying in a motel near the lake,” B.A.S.S. CEO Bruce Akin said in the statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as the bass fishing community rallies around them.”
Johnson was staying with his wife at a Motel 6 at 7145 I-55 North in Jackson, Jackson Police Department spokesperson Colendula Green said. Green said the department received the call of the shooting at 7:48 p.m., and upon arrival found Johnson had been shot.
The coroner was called and Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene.
Green said police are looking for a black male suspect who appeared on security camera footage, but that no arrests had been made as of this afternoon.
Chris Bowes, senior tournament manager for the Bassmaster Opens, told Bassmaster.com that a fishing friend had told him Johnson had discovered someone burglarizing his boat and went to investigate.
The shooting took place shortly thereafter.
“Jimmy was a terrific angler, as he has shown through the Bassmaster Opens,” Bowes told Bassmaster. “More than that, he was a tremendous guy. He will be deeply missed.”
Johnson was 11th in Central Open standings after two events.
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 at 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,” Stewart said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and the entire Texas B.A.S.S. Nation.”
The tragic events is a first for a B.A.S.S. event, B.A.S.S. spokesman Dave Precht said Monday.
“We have been talking about it around the office all day, and nobody here can remember anything like this before,” Precht said. “However, we do from time to time hear about boats being broken into and being vandalized, that type of thing.”
Precht said that, at this point, no changes have been made in the tournament schedule, except for a moment of silence and prayer for Johnson prior to Thursday’s start of fishing.