Multiple charges dismissed against men accused in Crust shooting

Of the seven men originally charged in an August shooting at Williamsburg’s Crust Cafe, two still have charges pending against them after a Thursday court hearing.

All seven were slated to appear in James City County General District Court Thursday at 1 p.m. for a preliminary hearing.

The Aug. 27 shooting left a bouncer, Corwin Lindsey injured and in need of medical care. He still has a bullet in his lower back.

Newport News resident John Lee Johnson, 22, turned himself in after police had identified him as a suspect and circulated his image, Williamsburg Police Department spokesman Maj. Greg Riley said.

John Johnson was arrested and charged with malicious assault, three counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and two counts of shooting into an occupied dwelling, according to court documents. He was also charged with gang participation.

After his court appearance Thursday, only the malicious assault and one count of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony remain. His case has moved to James City County Circuit Court.

Malik Cory Brown, 28, of James City, was charged with gang participation, according to court documents. His was the only case not heard in court Thursday. His case was continued his attorney Ivan Fehrenbach said. Fehrenbach would not comment on why.

Charges dropped

All charges against the remaining five men were either dropped or nolle prossed, which means prosecutors decline to pursue the charges unless more evidence turns up.

James City County residents Kajoun Devante Johnson, 22; Eric Ronald Anthony James, 24; Jamel John Young Jr., 23; and Travis David-Mark Campbell, 26; along with Dominique Lamar Wallace, 23, from Williamsburg, were charged with two felonies: gang participation and malicious wounding by a mob, according to court records.

They’ve been held at Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail since their September arrests, according to court records.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Kathryn Fennig announced both charges — for gang participation and malicious wounding by a mob — against Kajoun Johnson, James and Young, would be nolle prossed because of insufficient evidence.

Judge Colleen Killilea said Kajoun Johnson, James, and Young should be released Thursday barring any other charges against them.

Fennig called John Johnson, Campbell and Wallace together into the courtroom a few hours later, each accompanied by a lawyer.

Each was wearing an orange VPRJ jumpsuit and was shackled at their feet. Before witnesses were called, the gang charges against the three were also nolle prossed.

Night of the shooting

Lindsey, who was shot in his lower back, testified in court Thursday along with two other witnesses and the lead investigator in the case.

According to the witnesses’ testimony, a party was going on at the Richmond Road restaurant that night when two groups of men on the patio were seen arguing and being aggressive. Lindsey said he broke up the groups, sending one out through the patio and the other out through the restaurant's front door into a breezeway.

It was while the groups were outside, one gathered closer to Richmond Road and the other close to the Crust’s entrance in the breezeway, that the tension mounted and eventually five shots rang out, Lindsey said.

“People got down,” said Lindsey of the crowd once the shots were fired. “I turned to my partner and said 'I think I’ve been shot.'"

Lindsey was taken to the hospital; he had been shot once in the lower back. Doctors couldn’t remove the bullet, he said.

Burden of proof

Fennig also called Williamsburg police investigator Lang Craighill, who took the lead on the case.

Craighill said there was a gash in the ceiling of the breezeway, and two holes, consistent with bullets, found in a wall. One of the holes had a bullet still inside.

He said William and Mary dormitories are above the breezeway, and would have been occupied at the time.

That was the basis on which Fennig argued for Johnson’s charges of firing into an occupied dwelling.

The judge ultimately dismissed both counts Thursday. She then dismissed two of his charges of using a firearm in the commission of a felony, to shoot into a building, because she dismissed the occupied dwelling charges, she said.

After the testimony, all three lawyers argued against the mob charges — the only two left pending against Wallace and Campbell at that point. They argued that Fennig had not provided enough evidence to show there was mob with the intention to incite violence.

Killilea agreed.

“I don’t believe the commonwealth has met the burden of proof in establishing a mob,” Killilea said. “You are both free to go.”

Wallace and Campbell stood up immediately, even before she’d finished talking.

A VPRJ intake officer said Kajoun Johnson, James, Young and Campbell were released Thursday. Wallace is still in custody due to unrelated charges.

On his last two charges, malicious assault and the last count of using a firearm in the commission of a felony, Killilea found probable cause to try John Johnson in circuit court.

For that reason, she would not review his bond, so he returned to VPRJ.

Killilea said he may be on the grand jury’s docket March 15 and the trial would likely process in late March or early April.

Williams can be reached by phone at 757-345-2341.

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