Judge says Gill man can be released on bail

  • Wesley Johnson, second from right, sits next to his attorney, Alfred Chamberland, while listening to Franklin County Superior Court Judge Francis Flannery explain Johnson’s bail and conditions of release on Friday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/DOMENIC POLI

Staff Writer
Published: 10/17/2021 3:41:10 PM

GREENFIELD — A Gill man held on attempted murder charges can be released into house arrest if he posts $2,500 bail and honors various conditions of release, a Franklin County Superior Court judge ruled Friday.

Wesley Johnson, 64, of 91 Main Road, must submit to wearing a GPS tracking device, stay away from his two alleged victims, possess no firearm or other weapon, avoid alcohol and submit to screenings, Judge Francis Flannery decided.

Johnson was arrested previously on 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. The case was first in Greenfield District Court in late July before it was transferred to Superior Court.

Alfred Chamberland, the attorney representing Johnson, told Flannery his client’s health has deteriorated rapidly in the past week, with his arms and legs becoming discolored and swollen due to edema. He said Johnson had two brothers in the courtroom and one of them, who owns a business, was willing to bring Johnson to work each day to help comply with any conditions of release Flannery might order.

Chamberland explained the 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 said 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 the 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 selling drugs. Chamberland said large amounts of drugs were later found in the nearby cabin.

Chamberland said Johnson’s oldest son died while Johnson was being held without bail, and his other son recently relocated to Massachusetts from Colorado to support his parents and live with them.

Assistant District Attorney Matthew Thomas, who is prosecuting the case, asked that Johnson continue to be held without bail.

State Trooper Garrett Hall’s police report detailing the July 22 incident states he was dispatched to the 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 initially called 911 said everyone there had been socializing and drinking earlier in the night, according to Hall’s report. Johnson and one of the people barricaded inside the cabin had gotten into a physical altercation during the night. The woman said Johnson went into his residence and returned with a gun after the fight. 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 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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