Gun grabbed from backpack leads to arrest
A cautious construction worker with quick reflexes disarmed a man who walked onto an Edgartown job site last week and attempted to pull a Ruger 357 magnum revolver from his backpack. The man was later arrested at gunpoint after the worker alerted police.
Following a search Thursday afternoon by Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and State Police, Edgartown police arrested Emery E. Johnson, 38, of 40 Pine Street in Edgartown for possession of a firearm without a license.
Mr. Johnson was arraigned Friday morning in Edgartown District Court, where bail was set at $5,000 cash. A pretrial conference is scheduled for March 26.
Mr. Johnson was arraigned on January 4 on a charge of assault and battery. As a condition of his release, he was ordered to stay out of trouble or he would be jailed for 60 days. Mr. Johnson is currently being held in the Dukes County Jail.
Edgartown police are investigating where Mr. Johnson obtained the revolver. Based on witness reports it appears that Mr. Johnson was attempting to sell the gun when he pulled it from his backpack, Sergeant Kenneth Johnson said.
According to the police report, the incident took place in a duplex owned by the Dukes County Housing Authority at 19 Fisher Road. Employees of O'Brien Property Management, the housing authority's management company, were working in the building repairing a unit that was the scene of a fire last fall.
Guy's got a gun
Thursday afternoon, Rolston Hunter was one of three construction workers in the building when a man he had talked to briefly earlier as he walked by with another man, later identified by police as Mr. Johnson, entered the upstairs unit.
Mr. Hunter told Mr. Johnson he was not allowed on the property and could not enter. As Mr. Hunter escorted him out, Mr. Johnson repeatedly said to him, "Don't assault me."
Mr. Rolston told Mr. Johnson they would talk outside the building. Mr. Johnson took off the backpack he was wearing, put it on the floor and began to unzip it. "Rolston stated that he was very uneasy at this point so he approached the suspect to see what he was getting out of the backpack," detective Jonathan Searle wrote in his police report. "As he neared, Rolston saw that it was a handgun in a black case. Rolston immediately reached for the weapon and removed it from the suspect's grasp as he was pulling it from the backpack."
According to the police report, Mr. Johnson told Mr. Hunter the gun was a magnum, and he said he also had a 9 millimeter pistol.
Michael O'Brien was working on the second floor when he heard his co-worker yell, "Mike, get down here, the guy's got a gun."
Mr. O'Brien ran to the first floor "and was relieved to see that Rolly was now holding the gun in his hand," police said. At this point, police said, Mr. Johnson told Mr. Hunter to return the pistol, which police later found to be unloaded. Mr. Hunter refused and called 911.
"Rolston told the suspect that he was going to give the gun to the police and that they could give it back to him, but he wasn't going to," according to the report.
When police arrived, Mr. Johnson ran. Both men told police they suspected Mr. Johnson was intoxicated.
Oak Bluffs and State Police joined in the search for a man later identified by Edgartown Police as Mr. Johnson. A short time later, Mr. Johnson called the county communications center to ask if police were looking for him.
Police focused their search in the vicinity of a residence at 40 Pine Street, where Mr. Johnson rents a room. Oak Bluffs detective Nick Curelli, Edgartown police chief Paul Condlin, and detective Searle found Mr. Johnson "curled up in the dirt and leaves among some items near the left side/rear porch of 44 Pine Street."
Detective Searle drew his service weapon and ordered Mr. Johnson to show his hands. He did not immediately comply as he clutched "something metallic," in his hand, the police report said. The object was a cell phone
"Prior to being transported to jail, Emery asked to speak to me and stated that he didn't want a lawyer," detective Searle said in his report. "I refused to speak to him at this time, as I did not feel that he was lucid."