SWAT team helps end standoff on the Eastside — (Indy Star)

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Indy Star

By Tom Spalding and Terry Horne,  Tom.spalding@indystar.com

September 3, 2004

A standoff ended peacefully Thursday with the surrender of an Eastside man who had barricaded himself in his house.

No one was injured, and no shots were fired.

Some neighbors thought police overreacted. Police said they took no chances, since Michael Johnson, 53, had a mental illness and possible access to firearms.

On Aug. 18, a mentally ill Southside man armed with multiple weapons shot and killed an Indianapolis Police Department officer and wounded four others.

Johnson, of the 2200 block of North Drexel Avenue, is being treated for diabetes and depression. Neighbors and police said Johnson, who is white, had feuded with several neighborhood youths, most of whom are black.

IPD Detective Charles R. Wheeler said Johnson “is not shy about showing his racism”

Johnson was arrested Aug. 26 on charges of intimidation and criminal recklessness after two boys, ages 12 and 13, accused him of pulling a gun on them. According to a police report, Johnson also used a racial epithet.

Bond was set at $50,000. But because of an apparent administrative error at the Arrestee Processing Center in Downtown Indianapolis, he was released the next day.

IPD environmental Officer Bradley Craig went to Johnson’s home about noon Thursday because of a report of junk in the front yard.

He asked Johnson to surrender. Johnson began retreating inside, throwing things at Craig and threatening to shoot him, said IPD spokesman Sgt. Steve Staletovich.

When Johnson refused to come out — and because he is on medication for depression — the department’s Special Weapons and Tactics team was called in and negotiated his surrender.

Police said they found no firearms in the home but did find daggers, bayonets and ammunition.

Johnson was to be held at the Marion County Jail after a medical evaluation.

Some neighbors say Johnson is harmless and just fed up with being picked on by kids.

The police response was “way out of control,” said neighbor Zelda Turk, 41.

Other neighbors disagreed.

The boys’ mother, Angela Martin, 33, said her five children, ages 7 to 16, and other youths probably bear some responsibility for irritating Johnson.

“The only thing that I actively want is for the gentleman to get some help,” Martin said. “We’re ready to move.”

Call Star reporter Tom Spalding at (317) 444-2761.