Criminals and Illegal Guns The Sad, Real Problem Behind Gun Violence By Ron Heppner

According to AP and USA Today reports, Thomas Johnson III, age unknown, was convicted on felony weapons charges in Broward County, Florida; he spent more than two years in Florida State Prison between November 2003 and March 2006.

Shortly thereafter, Johnson was arrested by Rochester police, convicted of second-degree criminal trespass and served a year in the local jail.

In April 2009, Johnson was confronted by a Rochester police officer for allegedly drinking a 24-ounce beer in public. Court records show that Johnson pulled out what the officer said was "a silver/black object that appeared to be a revolver" then ran. The officer chased him for several blocks then lost him. Johnson was later arrested after the officer identified him from a photo array.

According to court records, in October 2010 Johnson was charged with second-degree armed robbery after attacking a 64-year-old man. The victim alleged Johnson "grabbed me from behind and put his arm around my neck." The man tried to break free, but Johnson told him he had a gun. The victim tossed his wallet on the street, tried to negotiate with Johnson, scuffled with him, and then Johnson ran off with the wallet, the victim said. Police arrested Johnson after he dropped the wallet while being chased.

Johnson was convicted, and sent to state prison in April 2011, and paroled in May 2013, according to state records. He violated parole and according state officials was again imprisoned at Wyoming Correctional Facility until being released on August 11, 2014. On August 19th he failed to make his first parole appointment and a warrant for his arrest was issued on August 27th, officials said.

Just 24 days after being released from state prison, according to Rochester Police Chief Michael Ciminelli: Officer Daryl Pierson and his partner, Officer Michael DiPaola, were on patrol just after 9 p.m. September 3rd when a man escaped a vehicle they were stopping. A few minutes later, they saw the man and Pierson got out to pursue him on foot.

Ciminelli said Johnson fired a gun as Pierson caught up to him, both men fell to the ground and Johnson’s handgun went off again, wounding a bystander.

The bystander Jamal Bollar said, “I was out in front of my house taking the dog out and the next thing you know, shots were fired.” Bollar, who was with his 2-year-old daughter on the porch then said, “As a father, my first reaction was to get her in the house.”

Bollar said when he heard the shots his leg began hurting, but he didn’t realize he had been shot “I was standing by the sofa and was feeling pain in my leg. My shirt was wet. I pulled it up and there was blood.” His uncle, Gregory Bollar, ran outside and told police his nephew had been shot.

The uncle said he saw DiPaola with the suspect on the ground and Pierson lying nearby. “The officer remained professional. He did his job,” Bollar said. “He was a lot more merciful than I would have been.”

Officer Daryl Pierson was a clean- cut, eight-year police veteran who loved his job as a cop. He was a member of the Army National Guard, and served in Afghanistan. He is survived by his wife, Amy, and two young children.

New Yorkers Against Gun Violence issued a statement on August 4th: A career criminal with convictions for robbery and weapons possession - used a 25-caliber handgun with a defaced serial number to shoot Officer Pierson. The alleged shooter must have obtained his gun illegally - since as a convicted criminal, he would not have been able to buy one in New York, due to our state's strong gun laws. 

This tragic case demonstrates how easy it is for criminals to obtain illegal guns, which are often trafficked into New York from states with lax gun laws, like Virginia, Pennsylvania and Florida.

To stop the flow of illegal guns into our state, we need strong federal gun laws such as universal background checks and anti-trafficking measures. Federal laws are the only way to ensure that all states adhere to some level of common sense and responsibility in preventing needless gun deaths and injuries.

Ahem, but the New Yorkers against Gun Violence has completely ignored the actual problem in this murder and they center on the hardware instead of the perpetrator. This repeat-criminal should never have been released in the first place, if he couldn’t find a gun, maybe he’d have used a knife, or a shank, or some other object to harm innocents.  

Admittedly, the laws on the books do a pretty good job of keeping legal weapons out of the hands of criminals. But criminals do not care about the law and the judicial system needs to start holding career criminals who use illegal weapons for criminal purposes more responsible by putting some teeth into prison sentences. There are enough laws, enforce, convict, and accordingly sentence. 

Thomas Johnson III, should never have been let out of prison. The senseless murder of Officer Daryl Pierson should not have happened.

 The gun did not just go off; a career criminal with criminal intentions pulled the trigger of: an illegally obtained, illegally possessed, and illegally defaced (probably stolen) firearm. One can only hope that a conservative judge will send this cop-killer to prison for the rest of his miserable life without parole.

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