Anniston police investigate death of 5-year-old boy

Johnnie Johnson is the owner of the rental house where the boy lived with his mother and sisters. (

Investigators in Anniston are waiting on the results of an autopsy of a five-year-old boy who died Friday in Birmingham.

Officers responded Friday morning{}to an emergency call near the intersection of Wilmer Avenue and 25th Street.{} Police captain Allen George said first responders rushed the child to Stringfellow Hospital in Anniston, and then a helicopter took him to Children's Hospital in Birmingham.

Captain George said he will release more details after the completion of a preliminary autopsy report, which he hopes to receive Tuesday.

Neighbors said they are also interested in hearing the cause of death, and said there are rumors floating around which upset them.

Johnnie Johnson is the owner of the rental house where the boy lived with his mother and sisters.{} Johnson said the family moved into the property about six months ago, and identified the young boy as Gregory.

"He was a great kid.{}{}Great attitude and{}always cheerful," Johnson said.

"When{}I worked in the yard a lot of times--I do my own lawn--and he would say 'Hey, Mr. Johnson', and I'm like, 'Hey little Gregory.'{}{} He was very loving, very caring.{} A very lovely kid."

Johnson attends church at Victory Headquarters Christian Center, which is right next door to the house where the boy lived.{} He said Gregory came to the church to attend Sunday School, and quickly noticed the sign out front which displayed the{}pastor's name: Charles Gregory.

"[Gregory] told his mother.{} He said 'Mom, my name is just like his, Gregory,' and he asked his mother if he could be a preacher like him, and she said 'okay, yeah, you can be a preacher'," Johnson said.

"He said 'can{}I carry the word of God like Pastor Gregory?'{} And she said yes, and she fell on her knees and started crying, and then said 'Lord,{}help us'."

Johnson said Gregory and his sisters started regularly attending the church, and church members provided a suit for the young boy to wear to service.{} After a while, their mother joined them, which Johnson said was a{}wonderful moment.

He hopes the congregation and faith will help the family through this tragic time.

"Thank God for salvation.{} Sometimes you've got to read between the lines because when{}I heard that, I'm like 'Lord help me now',{} because that's a kid.{}{}He's five years old.{} He can't defend himself," Johnson said.

Clayvell Kidd lives on the other side of the church from the family, and said while he never talked with the child, he occasionally saw Gregory and his sisters outside.

"I've seen him playing around that church there, but I really didn't know him,"{}Kidd said.

"Five years old, it was sort of shocking to us to hear that [he died].{} This close to home, it really just upsets us."