Mother of slain St. Paul rapper: Stricter gun laws won't help

Melissa Johnson says her son wasn't a gang member, and was a friend to everyone.
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Billy Ray Robles and girlfriend Alexis Cardy with Minnesota Viking Stefon Diggs.

Billy Ray Robles and girlfriend Alexis Cardy with Minnesota Viking Stefon Diggs.

The mother of Billy Ray Robles, allegedly shot to death by a teenage boy during the Inver Grove Heights party bus fight, says stricter gun laws will not stop future violence.

Melissa Johnson spoke with Bring Me The News and paid tribute to her beloved son, "an amazing and unique individual who brought joy to everyone around him."

She wanted to debunk suggestions that the 19-year-old aspiring rapper was a gang member, which follows police saying the fight that led to his shooting followed a dispute between groups calling themselves "east side" and "west side."

"I want people to know my son was not a gang member, despite what some news channels are trying to say," she said.

"Billy fit in with everyone, he had his rapper friends, sports friends, technology friends, church friends, work friends, friends in gangs, rich friends, poor friends, successful friends, and lost friends. He didn't judge anyone."

Related:

– 2 teenage boys charged in connection with rapper's party bus killing.

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'Gun laws won't make a difference'

Two teenage boys were charged on Wednesday in connection with Robles' death, after they allegedly opened fire at a chasing crowd as in the AMC Showplace parking lot in the early hours of Saturday morning.

But despite her son's death from gun violence on the morning before millions of young Americans joined the "March For Our Lives" calling for stricter gun laws, Johnson thinks it wouldn't help.

Billy Ray Robles

"Honestly I don't think stricter gun laws will make a difference, the guns are already on the streets," said Johnson, a member of The West Side Church in St. Paul. "I believe we need to start focusing on the parents and the community involvement in these kids' lives."

"Most of these kids on the streets shooting at each other come from broken homes and they have no sense of direction. Instead of reaching out to them society labels them as gangsters or trouble makers and bullies and criminals.

"Police target and harass them, schools ignore them. We as a community need to step up and take responsibility for our youth. Talk to them, encourage them, give them opportunities to figure out their individual talents and abilities. listen to them and above all accept them."

"If we can be more involved and available and accepting I believe they will be less likely to turn to the streets for approval."

He died in his girlfriend's arms

Robles was the eldest of Johnson's three sons, a big brother to four younger siblings, and a younger brother to a big sister, and two step-siblings.

She reveals that on the night he died he was with his girlfriend, Alexis Cardy, whom he "loved deeply."

Cardy on Facebook described her boyfriend this week as "an innocent soul caught between the crossfire he was only tryna break up [sic]."

Johnson said that as a white rapper, taking the name Billy Tha Kidd, her son "stood out in the crowd."

"He was a very talented musician who wrote his own raps and taught himself how to make different beats with the studio equipment," she said.

"He was an amazing son and a loving, positive role model for his 7 brothers and sisters.

"My son's death is a senseless crime that could have been prevented if someone was simply paying attention. I don't wish my pain on anyone ever."

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