Family wonders why deputies didn’t arrest allegedly violent man

Family members of victims of a domestic violence incident Thursday are questioning why deputies did not forcibly remove a man from a home after he allegedly shot multiple rounds inside.

Gregory J. Johnston, 30, was in Mesa County Jail on Monday in lieu of $25,000 bond for allegedly shooting guns and using a sword to slash walls and the floor in the his Orchard Mesa home during a domestic violence incident.

According to the arrest affidavit, a woman and three children were in the home when Johnston went into a rage and shot up a cedar chest, shot rounds into the living room floor and fired multiple rounds into the garage. The woman and children were able to leave the home after Johnston, who later told deputies he had been drinking alcohol, passed out on the bed. During the incident, the woman had texted “Help me” to a friend who then called authorities to the home.

Deputies did not perform SWAT maneuvers because there was not a land line into the home and no way to contact Johnston by phone, the affidavit said.

Mesa County Sheriff’s Department Spokeswoman Heather Benjamin said Monday that Sheriff Stan Hilkey would be out all week and unavailable for comment about the incident. Any other details of SWAT operations could not be discussed, Benjamin said.

According to the affidavit, Sgt. Peter Schimek called Lt. David Holdren by telephone asking for advice about proceeding after the woman in the home told deputies Johnston had passed out on the bed.

The affidavit said, “Lt. Holdren advised that since there was no neighbors injured or complaining, no immediate threat to anyone since we had already removed (the victims) then we would try calling into Greg but that we would not make entry. It was decided that since Greg and (a victim) do not have a land line in the house and (a victim) had the only cell phone with her we would pull back and let Greg sleep. Since we could not make contact with Greg at this time deputies would contact him in the morning after he was more rational.”

Deputies were not able to locate a third gun used in the incident after a neighborhood canvass and Johnston could not remember where he put the weapon, the affidavit said.

Johnston turned himself in to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department on Friday with the assistance of a pastor from the Landmark Baptist Church where he was receiving counseling for an alcohol addiction, the affidavit said.

Johnston faces three counts of menacing, tampering with evidence and a bail bond violation, all felonies, and misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment, child abuse, criminal mischief, prohibited use of a weapon and harassment.


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