Loudoun District Court Judge Dean Worcester on Tuesday sent the case of a Sterling man accused of shooting two Loudoun deputies on Christmas Eve to a grand jury, which will be asked to hand up indictments on two counts of attempted capital murder of a law enforcement officer.
According to prosecutors, deputies Katherine Fischer, Tim Iversen, and Justin Nyce responded to a domestic dispute at his home in Sterling at about 4 p.m. Dec. 24. After an hour-long effort to deescalate a days-long dispute between Douglas V. Johnson and his 19-year-old daughter, deputies decided to arrest the father.
During Tuesday’s preliminary hearing, Fischer and Iversen—the two deputies injured during the altercation—described the moments before and after they were shot.
Fischer said Johnson became agitated when he was told the deputies were going to arrest him on a domestic violence charge.
Three deputies were with Johnson as he stood in the doorway of a closet of an upstairs bedroom. When he lunged toward the back of the closet, Fischer jumped on his back—”I had a bad feeling,” she said about his sudden action. Iversen went for his TASER.
In the chaos, Fischer got between Iversen and Johnson.
With Johnson laying on his side and Fischer on Johnson’s back, Iversen activated his TASER. But when the probes deployed, Iversen said, they were too close together to incapacitate Johnson. He dove in to try to get a third point of contact with the head of the TASER itself. That’s when Iversen and Fischer heard gunshots.
When Fischer and Iversen opened their eyes, the lights were coming on in the closet, blood was on the floor, and a gun was on the floor near Fischer’s head.
Nyce, who was behind them, secured the firearm. Iversen, who had four injuries, including two on his left forearm, one on his left thigh, and one on his right, nonetheless handcuffed Johnson. Nyce tied a tourniquet on Fischer’s bleeding leg.
When the defense pressed Iversen on how many shots were fired, Iversen responded “I’ve got two bullets still in me, so I know at least two.”
“I only remember hearing two shots,” Fischer said.
According to Commonwealth’s Attorney Jim Plowman, a third bullet was lodged in Iversen’s vest. Fischer had been shot just above her knee, a bullet that may have passed through her before hitting Iversen.
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.
In February, his attorneys sought his pretrial release to be with his family and seek better treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, but he was denied bond.
A grand jury will meet on May 7 to decide whether to indict Johnson. The felony charges carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.