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Sirens & Gavels

Shooting suspect claims self defense

A young businessman facing attempted murder charges after a chaotic confrontation in downtown Coeur d’Alene told police he felt threatened when he opened fire on a group of men looking for a fight.

“I did what I was trained,” Adam M. Johnson told police, according to court documents filed Monday.

“I felt threatened and I didn’t feel that there was any other way out of it.”

But authorities investigating the early Sunday shooting in the 200 block of Sherman Avenue that left two Moses Lake men with gunshot wounds are skeptical.

They’re recommending that Johnson, 25, be charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery, concluding that it was the gunfire that appeared to have instigated the other violence.

Read the rest of my story here. Check out past coverage here.

The 93-page police report contained numerous tidbits that didn’t make it into the article. They are:

The fight at the Underground bar apparently began when one of the Moses Lake men bumped into Johnson, who was with two friends “who are or have been fighters at the Lyon’s Den,”according to a police report. The men went outside, talked and shook hands, Johnson told police. He went back to the Underground and the men left for another bar.

Johnson told police he was pushed, not hit, before he fired the first bullet. “Adam said as soon as he was jumped, he thought they were going to kill him,” according to the police report. “He stated that he tried to empty it (the clip) before he went to the ground because he knew that he would be killed.”

Johnson told police he always wore the gun in the front of his waist with no holster, according to police reports. He placed a round in the chamber after the men approached him, then backed up a few feet and fired, according to a police report. “I told Adam that witnesses said there was no physical altercation between he and the guy he shot, that Adam had just pulled his gun,” according to a report by Coeur d’Alene police Detective C. Miller. “Adam said he knows he felt threatened. He had a feeling that something was wrong.”

Johnson repeatedly asked police about protocols for officer-involved shootings and told detectives they would have done the same thing he did. “He said he was confronted with a group of people and it wasn’t just one person,” according to a police report. “They had ‘edged hostility.’ Adam continually pointed out what I would do as an officer and used his example for examples that I would encounter on and off duty.”

One of the men said the group had been asked to leave the Torch because the Burgesses’ mother and a friend “were getting out of hand, possibly with the stage dancers.”

When police asked Johnson for his personal information, “he said I could just check the front page of The Spokesman from last Sunday, since he was on the front of it,” according to a report. “I asked why but he said he did not want to talk about it.”

In interviews Monday, friends described Johnson as a level-headed, responsible young man trained on firearms and experienced in carrying them. “He is the epitome of a responsible gun owner, but he made a bad choice having it on him that night.” said Candace McEnespy, 23. “Those men were out looking for trouble.”

McEnespy, who identified herself to police as Johnson’s girlfriend, reportedly told police she was concerned about Johnson because of “the mood he was in tonight.” She said he’d been angry while at the Underground because someone tried starting a fight with him. McEnespy had approached a police officer in the 100 block of Third Street and asked what happened. “I explained some people had gotten out of control,” the officer wrote in a report. “She said that sounded like her boyfriend.”


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