Former Rattler killed


Amber Johnson’s Instagram bio holds a chilling message:

“I’m the one who has to die, when it’s time for me to die. So let me live my life the way I want to.”

Those words haunt her friends, former classmates and Diamond Dancers.

Johnson was killed during an apparent home invasion around 2:00 a.m. Tuesday in the 1400 block of Stefani Circle in Cantonment, Fla., according to the Escambia County Sherriff’s Office.

Her boyfriend, Justin Stanley, was wounded and taken to the hospital after police arrived at the scene. Investigators found a large amount of narcotics in the residence. They are looking for a silver, four-door, 2008 model Sedan with a Florida tag 284NIH that was involved in the shooting.

Johnson, along with Leah Castro, was one of the founding members of Florida A&M’s Diamond Dancers. Castro was the captain for the dance troupe.

Karen Colston, who was the adviser for the Diamond Dancers when Johnson was attending FAMU, said Johnson was a well-liked dancer and a beautiful, young lady with a wonderful personality.

“She went above and beyond just participating and being a dancer with the organization,” Colston said. “She served in the capacity of manager and adviser to the group.”

Johnson was passionate about the dancers and is credited with choreographing many of their routines, some of which are still used today. She was also the first to suggest that the dancers provide community service around Tallahassee, Castro said.

Castro said she met Johnson in the Paddyfote dormitory around four years ago. Castro saw a flier advertising auditions for the Diamond Dancers and joined. Both she and Johnson left FAMU about three years later due to financial issues.

Castro said the loss of Johnson is overwhelming.

“I never even thought this could happen,” Castro said. “I’m in shock, and I’m still in denial. I just spoke to her the day before she passed.”

Castro said the Diamond Dancers were like sisters, with Johnson being the “goofiest,” sweetest and the strongest of the group.

“You would never see her break a tear for anything,” she said.

Johnson admitted to not having many female friends before joining the Diamond Dancers. It was at Johnson’s birthday party two years ago when Castro first recalled Johnson’s emotional “wall” dropping.

“That was when she felt she could actually trust all of us,” Castro said.

Symeria Apedo, a third-year criminal justice student from Miami, said Johnson was selfless and kind. Johnson helped Apedo move out of her dorm her freshman year.

Shana Bullard, a senior criminal justice student from Miami, believes that Johnson was just in the wrong place at the wrong time when the incident happened.

“She was very nice and never had nothing bad to say about anybody,” Bullard said. “I don’t think it had anything to do with her. It was just who she was with – the wrong person”

Sta’cha Beckton, a junior pre-pharmacy student from Daytona Beach, remembers Johnson as a warm, selfless person.

“She always had a smile on her face and always made someone else smile,” Beckton said. “She would do anything for anybody.”

Greif-stricken, Castro said that she can still hear Johnson telling her to “stop crying, stay strong and get it together.”