A Prince George's County district court judge set bond at $1 million yesterday for Terrance G. Johnson, the 15-year-old Bladensburg youth accused of fatally shooting two Prince George's County police officers.
Following an emotional 45-minute bond hearing in which Assistant State Attorney Robert Tobin called Johnson "a cold, calculating killer," and Johnson's attorney described him as " an average 15-year-old child," Judge Louis Ditrani gave his reasons for the bond.
"This crime is so shocking it has left the community in a state of disbelief. Two men who were supposed to protect us from ourselves have been snuffed out.
"If the court sounds emotional," he added, "that is because this is an emotional moment. Mr. Johnson is innocent until proved guilty but I would be derelict if it did not note the seriousness of this crime.
"He has every reason to run. I have no doubt in my mind if he were released on personal bond (as Johnson's attorney Victor Houlon had asked) we would never see him again.
"I sympathize with his family but I also sympathize with the officers' families. The community must be assured that the court understands the shock of these crimes. I'm going to set bond at $500,000 for each life that was lost."
Earlier Johnson had told the judge that he would be afraid to sleep in a jail. His voice cracking, he said, "I didn't mean to do what I did, or what they say I did. I didn't.
Johnson's mother, Helen, with whom he lives at 4241 58th Ave. in Bladensburg, told the judge that her son was "mindful and obedient," in asking that he be released in her care.
Mrs. Johnson sat with her divorced husband, Robert M. Johnson, and three of their children during the hearing. All five brushed tears from their eyes periodically. When Johnson was led past his family as he was leaving the courtroom, he burst into tears.
In asking that Johnson be released on personal bond to his mother's custoday, Houlon argued at length that the boy must have been provoked before he acted.
"It is just not logical that an average 15-year-old boy would shoot two police officers," he said. "This is a great tragedy for all of us but something extraordinary must have happened. There must have been extenuating circumstances."
At one point Ditrani broke in, angrily asking Houlon, "are you trying to justify this crime?"
After the hearing Houlon said the youth had not told him that he had been abused by the officers but added, "if you use your common sense it seems likely that something happened to provoke him."
Earlier, Ditrani refused to change the bond figure of $2,500 set on Johnson's brother, Melvin K. Johnson, 18. The elder brother is charged with being "a rogue and a vagabond," by the police.
Reading from a piece of paper, Johnson told the judge, "I am being discriminated against because my brother is a murder suspect." The judge refused to life the bond although the charge is a misdemeanor.
While the bond hearing was going on, members of the police department were making arrangements for services for the two slain officers, Albert M. Claggett IV and James Brian Swart.
Both families were presented with checks for $2,500 from Heroes Inc., which provides financial support for law enforcement officers and firemen from this area killed in the line of duty.
In addition, Claggett's two boys, aged 2 and 3, will have their education paid for through college by Heroes. The families also will receive any additional financial assistance needed and Heroes will aid the families if they need help in coordinating any legal matters.
The county chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police scheduled memorial services for each officer tonight. The service for Swart will be at 7 p.m., for Claggett at 7:30 p.m. Both will be at Gasch's Funeral Home in Hyattsville where the bodies were sent yesterday for viewing.
Both men will be buried, side by side, at the Gates of Heaven Cemetery in Silver Spring on Thursday morning after separate funeral services.
Officers moved around the Hyattsville station yesterday quietly, speaking in low tones. The other four members of Claggett and Swart's squad, all extremely shaken, were placed on administrative leave until after the funerals.