ONTARIO – Police are still searching for witnesses to an Easter Sunday carjacking that left a 59-year-old father of four shot dead in the driveway of his apartment complex.
At a news conference Friday morning, Ontario police and the family of victim Gregory Johnson pleaded with potential witnesses to come forward.
“He did not deserve to die like this,” said Belinda Johnson, the victim’s wife. “No one deserves that. If anyone saw anything, any little detail that might help solve this crime, please come forward.
“We don’t want vengeance and we don’t anyone to be afraid. We do not want this to happen to other families,” she added.
According to initial reports, two Hispanic males were seen running from Johnson’s vehicle after it was abandoned a short distance from the scene of the killing.
A 911 call at 6:30 p.m. April 24 reported that a man was down in the alley near the intersection of Sixth Street and Holmes Court. Ontario police arrived and confirmed Johnson’s death.
Three hours later investigators recovered Johnson’s van, which was equipped with a LoJack signal, in an alley near the intersection of D Street and Begonia Avenue.
“We believe there are more people that may have seen the vehicle being dropped off,” said Sgt. Jeff Crittenden. “We have very limited information (about the suspects).”
Johnson, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam, would have been likely to have tried fending off his assailants, according to family members.
“He would never go crazy on anyone,” said the victim’s son, Chris, 19. “He’d talk it out. He wouldn’t go looking for trouble, but he would obviously react to (someone taking his van) and fight them off.”
Police are unsure about Johnson’s actions at the time of the robbery and have so far only his family’s accounts of their last moments with him.
“The last time I saw him is when he came (upstairs) to tell me that dinner was ready,” Belinda Johnson recalled. “I came down and noticed he had left.”
At first, she said, “I thought he might have gone to the store. But after thinking about it a couple of days (after the murder), I thought about how he would go and retrieve things from his car and come back inside.”
Said Crittenden: “We don’t know if he was going or coming at the time.”
Son Chris Johnson said his brother heard what might have been the gunshot that struck their father.
“My brother heard a pop outside, but you hear things like that in Ontario all the time,” he said.
Crimes of this type, said Crittenden, are rare in the “safe community” of Ontario. Earlier in the investigation, he said it looked like a “crime of opportunity.”
Crittenden said that an unspecified reward is being offered for information that leads to the suspect.
Information can be provided to homicide Det. Jeff Wentz at (909) 395-2715 or the WeTip Hotline at (800) 78-CRIME and www.wetip.com.