Local News

Fayetteville police arrest gunman after standoff

Posted March 24, 2009 5:39 a.m. EDT
Updated March 24, 2009 6:19 p.m. EDT

— Fayetteville police officers arrested an armed Fort Bragg soldier at about 10 a.m. Tuesday after an eight-hour standoff in which they said he shot at them from an apartment complex where he had holed up. 

Spc. Jason N. Johnson, 24, a dental specialist, exchanged gunfire with police, tried to stab an officer and barricaded himself inside Chason Ridge Apartments early Tuesday, police said.

No one was injured when Johnson and officers fired several rounds at each other. Johnson was treated at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center for a superficial wound to his wrist. Police said it was unclear how he suffered the injury.

"He's angry. He's irritated. I think that's the best way to put it right now," Fayetteville Police Department spokeswoman Theresa Chance said after the standoff. "His tone is that he just wants to be left alone."

Investigators planned to charge him with several counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and one count each of firing into occupied property and felony breaking and entering.

Fort Bragg spokesman Tom McCollum described Johnson as an "average soldier, not stellar, but not a slacker." He has been at Fort Bragg for two years and is married with no children, McCollum said.

Amy Johnson said she has been married to Jason Johnson for eight months, but she recently moved back home to Savannah, Ga., because he said he wanted a divorce.

Johnson has never been deployed, but he has had medical treatment, McCollum said. He wouldn't specify if the treatment was for mental or physical ailments.

"This is not typical of any Fort Bragg soldier, whether he's a dental specialist or one who's trained in firearms," McCollum said. "His training does not involve weapons to any large extent other than the annual qualification ranges."

Amy Johnson said her husband had a nervous breakdown last month. He checked himself into the psychiatric ward at Womack Army Medical Center last Tuesday, but was released the following day, she said.

"I was, like, this will happen again. I was, like, whether it's a day, a week, a month, unless he gets help," she said, adding that she believes Jason Johnson should have received more treatment before being released.

"Deep down, I know he's a good person," she said. "That's why I want him to get the help that he can get back to being him – he can get back to being the Jason that I did fall in love with."

His parents also live in Savannah, and he talked to his mother at about 1 a.m. Tuesday, police said. Details of the call were not released.

Residents of eight apartments in the complex, at 600 Scotia Lane, were forced to leave as police secured the area and dealt with Johnson.

Dan Dsroches said his wife and infant baby couldn't leave their apartment.

"She's freaked out. She's in the back room with the baby," Dsroches said.

The incident began after a woman tried to get Johnson under control in the complex's parking lot at about 2 a.m.

It was unclear why she tried to contain Johnson or what had provoked him. Police did not release the woman's name or her relation to him, but they characterized the initial report as a domestic situation.

Johnson lives at the complex, but he was barricaded in a friend's apartment. He shimmied up a brick column into the second-floor apartment to elude police, and he tried to stab an officer who followed him up the column, police said.

After the exchange of gunfire, police fired tear gas into the apartment, and Johnson retreated into the bathroom. The Cumberland County bomb squad then sent a robot into the apartment, and authorities were able to talk with Johnson using a microphone and speaker on the robot.

Police said they had a similar situation with him last week. Officers were called to the same complex after he barricaded himself in an apartment. He wasn't armed then, however, so police did not arrest him, Sgt. Tracey Bass-Caine of the Fayetteville Police Department said.

Instead, Army officials took him back to Fort Bragg for a psychological evaluation, authorities said.