Shooter Had Big Plan, Say Officials

By Allison Klein and Aaron C. Davis
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, May 1, 2008

D.C. police think the man who shot and wounded two people Tuesday at a technical school had a grander plan to commit mass murder and possibly die in a fiery shootout with police, law enforcement sources said yesterday.

Police searched Wesley Johnson's Fort Washington home and found three rambling suicide notes to family members written on paper towels and dated Tuesday: "You thought I was bluffing. Now you know it's judgment day," said one note in part, according to two sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.

Writing was scrawled on his bedroom walls, sources said. On one was the threat: "I'm going to throw rocks and no one will take me down."

Johnson had seemed discouraged and morose earlier in the day, said Cheryll Smalls, a neighbor who had a long talk with Johnson on a bus into the city Tuesday morning, a few hours before the incident.

"He kept saying how tired he was. Tired of it all," she said. "He just wasn't himself."

At his arraignment yesterday in D.C. Superior Court, Johnson pleaded not guilty to assault with intent to kill while armed. Public defender Brandi Harden argued unsuccessfully that the charge be lessened to assault with a deadly weapon. She said there was no proof he intended to kill anyone.

According to court documents, Johnson, 27, works part time at Nationals Park and is a full-time lifeguard at Winkler Pool Management in Prince George's County. The documents say he has seizures.

He was an auto mechanics student at the Excel Institute, where he also was taking a life skills class that had segments on anger management and conflict resolution, school officials said yesterday. Every student has to take the life skills class.

Excel teachers said Johnson, who had been at the school about a month, had always seemed mild-mannered and polite.

"He was cordial one day and snapped the next," said Curtis Hochtman, lead instructor at the school, in the 2800 block of V Street NE.

The Excel Institute canceled classes yesterday to give students time "to reflect on what happened," said Shana Heilbron, a spokeswoman for the school.

Excel is a nonprofit organization largely funded by the city. It was co-founded by former Redskins star George Starke and parking magnate John Lyon. About 100 students are enrolled.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company