Case for Gill man facing assault charges moved to Superior Court

  • Wesley Johnson, 65, of Gill, in Franklin Superior Court on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Wesley Johnson, 65, of Gill, in Franklin Superior Court on Tuesday with his attorney, Alfred Chamberland, left. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 11/30/2021 5:25:14 PM
Modified: 11/30/2021 5:24:42 PM

GREENFIELD — The Gill man facing charges for allegedly shooting at another man and his girlfriend pleaded not guilty in Franklin County Superior Court on Tuesday after the case got transferred from Greenfield District Court due to its severity.

Wesley Johnson, 65, of Main Road in Gill, was arraigned on two counts of armed assault with intent to murder, two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, and a single count of possession of a firearm without an FID card.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Matthew Thomas. Johnson is represented by defense attorney Alfred Chamberland. The case was first in Greenfield District Court in late July.

Judge Francis Flannery ruled in October that Johnson can be released from custody if he posts $2,500 bail and honors various conditions of release. Johnson must wear a GPS device, make no contact with the two alleged victims, refrain from alcohol and submit to screenings, and be in regular contact with the probation department. He is scheduled to be back in court for a pretrial conference in April.

During the bail petition in October, Chamberland explained Johnson’s charges stem from an incident shortly before 2 a.m. on July 22, when a man allowed to essentially “squat” on Johnson’s property punched Johnson in the face. Chamberland explained his client reacted by entering his home, retrieving a gun he was not licensed to own, and firing the weapon at the other man and that man’s girlfriend, both of whom fled and barricaded themselves inside a nearby cabin. Chamberland said Johnson then fired into the cabin door.

According to Chamberland, the fight started when the man refused Johnson’s demands to leave his property due to suspicion of dealing drugs. Chamberland said large amounts of drugs were later found in the nearby cabin.

State Trooper Garrett Hall’s police report detailing the July 22 incident states he was dispatched to the Main Road property on a report of a man who had fired shots at a house. The 911 caller also stated two people had barricaded themselves in a nearby cabin to escape the gunfire. While en route, Hall was advised by Trooper Anthony Martino that he was on the phone with the suspect, later identified as Johnson, who was calmly waiting for police outside the residence.

Hall reports he placed Johnson in restraints and informed him he was not under arrest at the time. Johnson declined medical treatment for a bleeding laceration on his nose. The other troopers made contact with the man and woman in the cabin.

Once troopers secured the scene and ensured all parties were accounted for, the woman who had initially called 911 said everyone there had been socializing and drinking earlier in the night, according to Hall’s report. But Johnson and one of the people barricaded inside the cabin had gotten into a physical altercation. The woman said Johnson went into his residence and returned with a gun after the altercation. She reportedly told police she went into the house but heard the other man say, “What, are you going to shoot me?” She then reportedly heard multiple gunshots.

The woman allegedly told police that Johnson then reentered the house and she could hear him access a safe where he stores firearms. The woman said Johnson went outside again and she could hear several more gunshots.

Hall reported the two people barricaded in the cabin were uncooperative during questioning, but the man said he and a woman ran inside the cabin when they heard gunshots. The man also said he heard more shots fired outside the door and he laid on the ground to avoid being hit.

Hall wrote that Johnson reportedly said his cousin left with the gun, though he later said he tossed it into the woods. The woman who had called 911 reportedly said Johnson’s cousin was not at the property during the incident.

Hall reports there was a blood trail leading from Johnson’s residence to the front door of the cabin where the man and woman had hid. There was also a shell casing from a .22-caliber bullet at the cabin door as well as a bullet hole, according to Hall.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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