Crust shooting case moves to higher court, charges against some men in shooting dropped

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John Lee Johnson (Courtesy Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail)
John Lee Johnson (Courtesy Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail)

Only two out of seven original charges against a 22-year-old man accused of shooting a security guard at outside the Crust restaurant will continue on to a higher court.

Four charges against John Lee Johnson were dismissed Thursday evening in the Williamsburg-James City County General District Court, including two counts of shooting into an occupied building, use of a firearm to shoot into an occupied building and reckless discharge of a firearm.

During the probable cause hearing, Judge Colleen Killilea said the evidence from an investigator, two witnesses and the victim of the shooting did not provide probable cause to support the four charges.

There were approximately 20 people present in the courtroom for the hearing.

Killilea certified the two remaining charges – maiming and use of a firearm in commission of a felony – to the circuit court grand jury. The grand jury meets March 15 and the trial date, which could be late March or early April, Killilea said, will be set at the time.

“There is probable cause to believe Mr. Johnson had a firearm and shot an innocent person in the back,” the judge said.

The charges stem from an Aug. 27 shooting at the Crust restaurant, in the 200 block of Richmond Road, which left a security guard with a bullet lodged in his lower back. The shooting occurred during a party that was hosted at the restaurant and drew over 100 people, according to testimony from Williamsburg Police Department Investigator Lang Craighill.

A seventh charge against Johnson, gang participation, was dropped by the prosecution because there were no witnesses to testify to support the charge, prosecutor Katey Fennig said in court.

While Johnson’s case was certified to the circuit court grand jury, five other men also appeared in court Thursday for charges connected to the Crust shooting.

Prosecutors nolle prossed charges of gang participation and maiming by mob against Jamel John Young Jr., 24, Kajound Devante Johnson, 22, and Eric Ronald Anthony James, 25. If charges are nolle prossed, the prosecution will not pursue the charges unless new evidence comes to light.

Charges of maiming by mob were also dismissed against Dominique Lamar Wallace, 23, and Travis David-Mark Campbell, 27. Both men and their attorneys were included in the probable cause hearing with Johnson.

Both Campbell and Wallace’s attorneys, LeeAnn Barnes and Tom Clancy, argued that although the two men had been identified by witnesses as present at the Crust, there was no evidence to support that they were part of a mob.

Killilea agreed, dismissing the charges of maiming by mob against the two.

If there are no other pending matters in court against all men except Johnson, the alleged shooter, Killilea said the five men could be released as early as Thursday afternoon.

A sixth Crust-related case, against Malik Cory Brown, 28, was continued until a later date, his attorney Ivan Fehrenbach said.

Just before 1 a.m. Aug. 27, several shots were fired outside Crust, according to police reports.

According to witness testimony from Craighill, a Crust event coordinator, a Crust security guard – who was shot during the incident – and a party attendee, two groups of men got into an altercation on the front patio of Crust just before the shooting took place.

The altercation occurred as tensions in the packed restaurant escalated, the security guard testified.

The security guard said he and his partner escorted one of the groups onto the sidewalk on Richmond Road, just outside the patio, and then took the other group to the breezeway, which is perpendicular to the sidewalk where the first group went.

Despite being separated, the two groups continued to yell loudly at each other.

“They were screaming at each other,” he said.

Soon after, several shots rang out, and the man realized he had been hit.

“I turned to my partner and said ‘hey man, I think I’ve been shot,” the guard testified. “I asked him to lift my shirt up on my back and look for any blood.”

The guard said he has “good days and bad days” because of the injuries he sustained from the shooting. He added that doctors have not been able to remove the bullet.

Cedric Parker, an event attendee whose birthday was being celebrated at the time, said he saw a man with a striped, “Rasta-colored” sleeveless undershirt, who he identified as the man who shot the gun. In separate testimony, Craighill identified Johnson as the man wearing the striped shirt.

When the shots rang out, Parker said he ran toward the gunman, who was just on the other side of the breezeway toward a parking lot behind the restaurant. He said there were many people still in the breezeway when the shooting occurred.

When asked what type of gun the person had, Parker said he didn’t know but confirmed it was a handgun.

“It was a handgun, of course it was a handgun,” Parker said. “But I don’t know whether it was a Sig [Sauer] .40 or a nine [millimeter] or a revolver.”

Craighill testified that he had recovered a bullet from a wall in the breezeway, as well a gash in the breezeway ceiling, which is below dormitories that house William & Mary students. Students live on the second floor of the building Crust is in, he said.

Fearing can be reached at 207-975-5459.