Judge deems Gill man accused of attempted murder dangerous; held without bail

  • Greenfield District Court Judge William Mazanec III presides over a dangerousness hearing for Wesley E. Johnson on Tuesday morning. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Wesley E. Johnson in Greenfield District Court on Tuesday morning for a dangerousness hearing. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Attorney Alfred P. Chamberland represents Wesley E. Johnson, left, in Greenfield District Court on Tuesday morning for a dangerousness hearing. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Wesley E. Johnson in Greenfield District Court on Tuesday morning for a dangerousness hearing. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Wesley E. Johnson listens to his attorney, Alfred P. Chamberland, in Greenfield District Court on Tuesday morning for a dangerousness hearing. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 8/3/2021 4:56:52 PM

GREENFIELD — The Gill man accused of attempted murder following a July 22 incident was ordered held without the right to bail on Tuesday morning after being deemed dangerous by Greenfield District Court Judge William Mazanec III.

Wesley E. Johnson, 64, had previously pleaded not guilty to charges of armed assault with intent to murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, possession of a firearm without an FID card and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building. His attorney, Alfred P. Chamberland, made an unsuccessful argument for bail and Johnson is due back in court on Aug. 26.

Assistant District Attorney Ryan Scott, who is prosecuting the case for the state, explained to Mazanec what State Trooper Garrett Hall wrote in his arrest report. According to Hall, he was dispatched to 91 Main Road in Gill at 2:20 a.m. on July 22 on a report of a man who had fired shots at a house. The 911 caller also stated two people had barricaded themselves inside 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 and other troopers arrived on scene and were met by the woman who had initially called 911.

According to Hall’s arrest report, Hall placed Johnson in restraints and informed him he was not under arrest at the time. Johnson was bleeding from a laceration on his nose but declined medical attention. The other troopers made contact with the man and woman who were barricaded inside the cabin.

Once the scene was secured and all parties were accounted for, the woman who initially called 911 said everyone there had been hanging out earlier in the night and having some drinks, according to Hall’s report. During the night, Johnson and one of the people who barricaded themselves inside the cabin had allegedly gotten into a physical altercation. The woman said that after the fight, Johnson went into his residence and returned with a gun. 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 she knows he stores firearms. The woman said Johnson went outside again and she could hear several more gunshots.

Hall reports the two people who had barricaded themselves 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 for his safety.

Hall wrote that Johnson said he and another man got into an argument but nothing happened. 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 also reports there was a trail of blood leading from Johnson’s residence to the front door of the cabin where the man and woman were hiding. There was also a shell casing from a .22-caliber bullet at the cabin door as well as a bullet hole, according to Hall. Johnson does not have a license to carry a firearm.

Scott, the assistant district attorney prosecuting the case, also said Johnson was involved in a similar situation in 2014. But Chamberland, Johnson’s attorney, said the charges stemming from the incident were dismissed. Chamberland asked the judge to deny the state’s motion to hold Johnson without bail, saying the police report makes no mention of any eyewitnesses to the discharge of a weapon. He also said his client was the only person injured that night.

Chamberland explained there is “a long-running feud” about whether the alleged victims can stay on the property. Chamberland said they are essentially squatters because there is an unofficial rental agreement, but Johnson no longer wants them on the property.

“He was beat up by someone 25 years his junior,” Chamberland said, adding that Johnson was provoked in both incidents that have led to his arrest.

He also expressed concerns over spikes in COVID-19 cases caused by the Delta variant. He said Johnson’s health would be at grave risk in the Franklin County Jail and House of Correction because he suffers from lupus, an autoimmune disorder, and he is still recovering from a double bypass surgery a year ago following a heart attack.

Chamberland said his client has received only one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. He said he visited Johnson in a pod at the house of correction and noticed there were roughly 40 nearby inmates, none of whom were wearing masks.

Chamberland mentioned to Mazanec that Johnson’s brother and former employer were in the courtroom Tuesday in a show of support.

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


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