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POLICE FAMILIAR WITH COUPLE – AURORA COPS CALLED TO HOME 20 TIMES

Rocky Mountain News (CO) – Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Author/Byline: Sarah Langbein, Rocky Mountain News
Staff writer Clayton Woullard contributed to this report.
Edition: Final
Section: News
Page: 5A
Aurora police had been summoned to the home of a couple involved in a life-threatening shooting on Sunday nearly 20 times before, with at least three of the calls involving domestic violence, records show.

The latest argument, over electronic equipment, escalated into a shooting that has left Lorraine Johnson fighting for her life.

The 48-year-old mother is listed in “extremely critical condition” at the Medical Center of Aurora. Her husband, Eddie Johnson, is being held without bail at the Arapahoe County jail on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder.

Records released Monday by Aurora police show Sunday wasn’t the first time that Lorraine Johnson expressed fear about her husband and the gun he kept in their home.

When she phoned 911 this weekend, she told authorities about the weapon but said it wasn’t a part of their fight.

Lorraine Johnson and her daughters reported that Eddie Johnson would “retrieve the loaded gun and wave it around in a threatening manner,” according to previous police reports.

In at least one instance, he allegedly threatened to shoot his family, a police report said.

This time around, investigators say, he followed through with the threat.

Lorraine Johnson called 911 around 6:20 p.m. to report an escalating verbal fight. Officers initially spent 30 to 40 minutes with the Johnsons before concluding there wasn’t probable cause to arrest anyone.

“They felt confident leaving the situation up to the (Johnsons),” officer Marcus Dudley said.

Colorado law requires officers to take someone into custody in all domestic violence cases, but only if there is evidence that a crime was committed.

An hour later, a second 911 call came in. The caller told dispatchers that Eddie Johnson had shot his wife in their front yard, police said.

The news of the near-fatal domestic dispute surprised Lorraine Johnson’s former co-workers at Saturn of Aurora auto dealership.

“She’s a people person, always smiling, jolly and seemed to have a lot of energy,” Kelly Harris said. “She’s a great gal.”

Lorraine Johnson, who had come to the United States from England, worked in customer service and as a receptionist. She’s a mother and grandmother.

Police reports show that previous incidents had resulted in several injuries, including a black eye, scratches, swelling around the head and a cut lip.

But nothing about her home life seemed so out-of-control that it would lead to this, co-workers said.

On Sept. 7, 2003, Aurora police documented her injuries after arresting Eddie Johnson, 45, who worked security for a contractor at Buckley Air Force Base, on suspicion of assault and battery charges.

Lorraine Johnson said her husband hit her repeatedly in the head and face for standing in front of a closet where he stored a 9 mm handgun, according to a police report.

Eddie Johnson gave police a different account of the situation, saying the fight began when his wife kicked him as he walked down the stairs.

He said he returned her kick with a punch to the face and then she hit him back.

But police concluded that Eddie Johnson’s account didn’t match his wife’s injuries or their children’s eyewitness statements. They also noted that there was no evidence he had been assaulted.

Eddie Johnson was arrested. Lorraine Johnson completed a domestic violence survey and was issued a subpoena to appear in municipal court the following day for her husband’s first appearance.

Three months later, the domestic violence charges were dropped. He pleaded guilty to trespassing. The assault and battery charges were dismissed.

The court also ordered that the gun in the case, a Beretta 9 mm, be handed over to Eddie Johnson’s attorney.

The office was instructed to sell the gun and give the money to Eddie Johnson.

Dudley said the gun used in the incident Sunday was not the one used in the 2003 incident.

“We want to believe this doesn’t happen and that this is an exception,” said Donna Sims, director of programs at Gateway Battered Women’s Shelter in Aurora, of the 2003 case and recent events. “It’s disconcerting at best.”

She said this case warrants a review of how all agencies involved with domestic violence, including the police, respond to crisis situations.

“It’s always frustrating that after a horrible thing happens, we begin scrutinizing what happened,” Sims said.

In addition to the domestic disputes at the Johnson home, police also have responded to other calls, including noise disturbances, family violence, threats and reports of a runaway.

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