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Coolin man killed by Bonner County deputies accused of waving gun at officer on Sunday night

UPDATED: Thu., Sept. 28, 2017

An Idaho State Police vehicle sits at a roadblock near the scene of a deadly, officer-involved shooting near Coolin, Idaho on September 26, 2017. (Peter Maxwell / KHQ)
An Idaho State Police vehicle sits at a roadblock near the scene of a deadly, officer-involved shooting near Coolin, Idaho on September 26, 2017. (Peter Maxwell / KHQ)

A Priest Lake real estate agent waved a gun at a Bonner County deputy sent to check on his welfare Sunday night, according to court documents, setting up a fatal confrontation two days later in which the man was shot and killed by deputies who had returned to his home to arrest him.

A few minutes before midnight Sunday, Bonner County Deputy Gary Madden showed up at the Coolin home of Craig A. Johnson after his wife called dispatch to check on him.

As Madden walked up to the well-lit house, Johnson appeared on a second-story porch waving a gun and yelled at him to get off his property, according to court records.

Madden said he then identified himself as a deputy, drew his gun and took cover behind his patrol car while telling Johnson to drop his weapon.

Instead, Johnson walked back inside his house and Madden drove away.

The entire episode took four minutes, according to dispatch logs sent to the Bonner County Daily Bee newspaper.

Two days later, on Tuesday morning, several deputies returned to Johnson’s house to arrest him for waving the gun at the deputy. The Idaho State Police, which is investigating the shooting, said Johnson was armed and “exhibited hostile behavior to the deputies” that morning and was shot. He died in the back of an ambulance on the way to a nearby medical helicopter.

The aggravated assault charge that was filed against Johnson was dismissed by prosecutors on Thursday.

Johnson grew up in Spokane and graduated from Mead High School in 1984.

As a young man, Johnson played rhythm guitar for Citizen Swing, a Spokane band fronted by Myles Kennedy that released two albums before disbanding in 1996. Kennedy launched Mayfield Four, with Johnson on guitar. The band signed a record deal with Epic Records in 1996 and released two albums and an EP before splitting up in 2002. Johnson left the group before the second album was released, according to AllMusic.

In a Facebook post, Mayfield Four bass player Marty Meisner lamented the death of his childhood friend.

“I never had the chance to tell Craig how much I have missed him,” he wrote. “I never had the chance to sit down with him and let him know what an amazing part of growing up he played in my life.”

Friends have described Johnson as mild-mannered and easygoing, saying he’s not aggressive at all.

Musician Sammy Eubanks, who got to know Johnson when he was in Mayfield Four, describes him as “an absolute sweet, sweet guy.”

“I’ve never heard him raise his voice,” Eubanks said. “I’m just flabbergasted by what happened. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Eubanks said he can’t imagine Johnson waving a gun or being violent. “This whole thing doesn’t jibe with what I know about Craig,” he said. “I can’t wrap my head around it. I really can’t.”

Johnson worked from home as a real estate agent but was employed by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices First Look Real Estate in Spokane. Officer manager Jennifer Collins described Johnson as a genuinely nice guy who was liked by everyone.

“He was awesome,” she said. “We’re totally in shock. It makes no sense.”

His longtime friend, Brandy Torrisi, said he also worked one night a week at the Moose Knuckle bar in Coolin. “He’s always been an excellent, mild-mannered, cool guy.”

An ISP spokesman said Thursday that the agency does not anticipate releasing any more information about the shooting until the investigation is over. The deputies who fired at Johnson have not been identified, but the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office dispatch logs name the responding deputies as Jordan Thomson, Ted Swanstrom, Phil Stella and Tim Reynolds.

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