Homicide suspect dies following shootout with police; authorities find guns, armor and list of Arkansas officer names
Tragedy in Horatio – State and local investigators work the scene of a double homicide in Horatio on July 9. Authorities say 40-year-old Andre Johnson killed his 66-year-old mother and a 70-year-old man. Johnson was killed following a shootout with police in Broken Bow, Okla. later that evening. In Johnson’s possession were found two pistols, a bullet-proof vest and an alleged “kill list” containing the names of Arkansas police officers. Debra Johnson’s last Facebook post before she was killed was a picture issuing condolences to the families of the five police officers who were killed in Dallas, Texas on July 7.
By Patrick Massey
DE QUEEN – It's been a week of tragedy and shock for the small town of Horatio following the murder of two people over the weekend and the death of the perpetrator of the heinous crime.
According to the Sevier County Sheriff's Office, 40-year-old Andre Johnson of Horatio shot and killed his mother and another person around 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 9. Officials released the names of the two victims on Monday - 66-year-old Debra Johnson and 70-year-old Dr. L. Don Brown.
Authorities say Johnson shot and killed his mother that afternoon and dragged her body into a field behind her home. He used lighter fluid to set fire to the field in a possible attempt to dispose of his mother's body. Officials said Brown, who was staying in a home nearby, saw the fire and attempted to extinguish it. Johnson killed Brown as he approached the burning field.
Officers were notified shortly afterwards by an anonymous 911 caller. Investigators who arrived said they came upon one of the worst crime scenes experienced by local law enforcement in recent years. They were informed by neighbors that Johnson had killed both people.
A responding deputy met Johnson as he was driving away from the crime scene but lost him during the pursuit. Authorities quickly issued an alert on social media and to area law enforcement agencies with a description of Johnson, who was considered to be armed and extremely dangerous.
Authorities were later informed of Johnson's whereabouts by an Oklahoma teenager who saw the alert on Facebook. He witnessed Johnson at an Eagletown, Okla. gas station and used his cell phone to take a picture of Johnson and his vehicle's license plate. The photo was sent to Oklahoma law enforcement officers who informed Sevier County authorities that Johnson had been seen in Eagletown.
Police quickly set up at major traffic points throughout the area. Oklahoma authorities caught up with Johnson in Broken Bow, Okla., where he led them on a pursuit through town. Johnson made a turn into a dead-end neighborhood. He then exited his vehicle and began firing at the pursuing police officers. A photo circulated widely on Facebook shows a police car whose windshield was riddled with bullets fired by Johnson.
Several Oklahoma officers then shot back, hitting Johnson multiple times. Johnson was taken by ambulance to an Idabel, Okla. hospital where he later died of his wounds. No officers were injured despite an erroneous report on social media that an officer had been shot.
Johnson was found in possession of two pistols and a bullet-proof vest. According to the McCurtain County Gazette, an investigating officer speaking on condition of anonymity said Johnson also possessed a handwritten list with the names of numerous Arkansas police officers. The source said the list appeared to be a "kill list."
Authorities are not commenting on the list at this time.
Motives are unclear at this time, but a relative of Johnson said he acted recently as if "a demon was possessing him." Johnson has served time for previous offenses, including aggravated assault.
The bodies of both victims have been transported to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for further examination. The case remains under investigation.
Debra Johnson was a nurse and a member of the Horatio City Council. Brown was a Vietnam veteran who retired as a Kraft Foods and Coors executive. Brown, who lives in Arizona, was visiting in Horatio for the summer. A native of Horatio, Brown was scheduled to be inducted into the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff Hall of Fame later this year. That ceremony will be conducted posthumously.
Debra Johnson's last post on her Facebook page expressed tribute to the Dallas police officers who were killed the day before her death.
Family, friends and neighbors described both victims as outstanding people and loved members of the community. Comments on Facebook expressed heartbreaking loss for both victims and shock at their senseless murder.
As per standard procedure, the officers involved in Johnson's shooting have been placed on administrative leave. Officials said this is done for the sake of the officers' mental health as well as benefiting the investigation. Officials further said the use of lethal force was unfortunate but necessary to ensure the safety of the responding officers.
"We're thankful for Oklahoma law enforcement agencies and their quick response to this horrible incident," said Sevier County Sheriff-Elect Robert Gentry. "It's fortunate that they were able to bring a conclusion to this without the further loss of innocent life."
Local police express sorrow for fallen Dallas officers By Patrick Massey
DE QUEEN – Local law enforcement agencies are expressing their sorrow for the murder of five police officers in Dallas, Texas, as well as condolences to their families, the surviving officers and the broader Dallas community as it attempts to work through this horrible incident.
In what quickly garnered global attention, on July 7 Micah Xavier Johnson ambushed and shot 12 police officers and two civilians during a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas. Johnson, who was an Army Reserve Afghan War veteran, was reportedly angry over police shootings of black men and stated that he wanted to kill white people, especially white police officers.
Johnson was later killed by police who used a bomb disposal robot to place an explosive near a room in the El Centro College where the standoff ensued.
Five police officers were killed and seven more injured, some critically. One civilian was shot as she attempted to shield her four sons, reported the Dallas Morning News.
The shooting was the deadliest incident for U.S. law enforcement since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, surpassing March 2009 shootings in Oakland, California, and a November 2009 ambush shooting in Lakewood, Washington, both of which killed four officers.
Authorities say the Dallas shootings were Johnson's response to the recent police shootings of two unarmed black men.
Officials with the Sevier County Sheriff's Office and De Queen Police Department said they were heartbroken by the news from Dallas, which is just a three-hour drive from Sevier County.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the officers of the Dallas Police Department and their families," said Sheriff-Elect Robert Gentry. "I ask that the citizens of Sevier County keep these brave officers and their families in your prayers."
De Queen Police Chief Scott Simmons issued a similar statement. "This was a tragic incident and our thoughts and prayers go out to all those involved, the fallen officers, their families, and those who survived and are trying to make sense of this tragic incident," he said.
Simmons and Gentry said they both met with their officers to discuss the incident and advise them to take extra precautions as they perform their duties.
To read the complete article, please see the July 14 edition of The De Queen Bee.