A Loudoun County District Court judge today denied a bond request for the Sterling man charged with shooting two Loudoun deputies on Christmas Eve.
Defense attorney Thomas C. Soldan asked Judge Dean Worcester to release Douglas V. Johnson so that he could be with his family and receive better treatment for PTSD and depression pending his trial.
The shooting happened after deputies were called to address a domestic dispute at his Sterling home. Following an hour-long effort to deescalate a days-long dispute between Johnson and his 19-year-old daughter, deputies decided to arrest the father.
Johnson then went upstairs in the home and deputies found him standing in the doorway of a closet. After refusing to come out, he lunged to grab a handgun. As the three deputies struggled to place him in custody, Johnson fired multiple times. One deputy was shot in his arms and one leg, and another was shot in her leg.
Johnson was charged with two counts of attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer. The felony charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
The injured deputies are recovering well, but have yet not returned to work, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Soldan told the judge that Johnson is a former U.S. Army major who was awarded a Bronze Star and other decorations during a military career that included serving 42 months in combat zones. Since leaving military service, he has been working in the intelligence field and holds the highest level of security clearance. While in custody at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center, Johnson has been given mental health treatment and medication, but his family wants to move him to inpatient treatment available through the Veteran’s Administration, he said.
The attorney also pointed to the more than a dozen family members and co-workers who attended Wednesday’s bond hearing to show support for Johnson and who were committed to helping him upon his release.
Soldan described the shooting as an unfortunate incident and said Johnson was not a danger to others. The chief concern, he said, was Johnson’s mental health and to provide treatment to ensure he was not a danger to himself.
Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Nicole Wittmann pointed out that state law establishes a presumption that bond should not be granted in attempted capital murder cases. Acknowledging the Johnson has many supporters willing to help, she said it was not clear they could control him—or protect him—should he become aggressive. Also, she noted there was no assurance that Johnson could immediately transfer to an inpatient treatment program.
Worcester agreed with Wittmann there wasn’t enough evidence presented to ensure Johnson could be safely released. The bond denial also could be appealed to the Circuit Court.
Johnson will be back in District Court on Feb. 23 for a preliminary hearing in the case.
As Johnson was led out of the courtroom and back to jail, several family members shouted, “We love you.”