Marine Christopher Johnson pleads not guilty in Christmas shooting in Vista

Johnson stationed at Camp Pendleton

VISTA, Calif. - A Camp Pendleton-based Marine accused of shooting up his apartment in Vista on Christmas night, prompting a standoff with sheriff's deputies, pleaded not guilty Thursday to negligent discharge of a firearm and shooting at an occupied dwelling.

Christopher Michael Johnson, 26, -- who remains free on $25,000 bail -- faces up to seven years in prison if convicted, said Deputy District Attorney Marnie Layon.

As a condition of bail, Judge Martin Staven ordered the defendant to abstain from alcohol, not possess any firearms and stay confined to the Camp Pendleton base. Johnson must also wear an alcohol- and home-detention monitoring bracelet beginning Monday, the judge said.

According to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, Johnson fired multiple rounds from his .44-caliber magnum revolver inside his apartment in the 900 block of Taylor Street in Vista around 11:50 p.m. Dec. 25.

"Rounds went through a flat-screen TV in the living room," sheriff's Sgt. Tom Ness said. "Another round, possibly fired through a bedroom patio screen door, traveled through a closed window of a nearby apartment. The window shattered and some of the vertical window blinds broke. Fragments of the bullet were located on a small kitchen table."

Sheriff's deputies attempted to contact Johnson by phone and via a public address system, Ness said. The Sheriff's Special Enforcement Detail was called to the scene after Johnson failed to respond.

"Once Johnson complied with commands and exited his apartment, deputies took him into custody without incident," Ness said. "A number of handguns and rifles were seized from the apartment as evidence."

Johnson was arrested about 4:45 a.m. Dec. 26. No one was injured in the incident, Ness said, adding that the motive was unclear.

Johnson's attorney, Alex Ozols, told reporters that his client has been deployed three times and that the issue of post traumatic stress disorder will play a key role in defense of the case.

The judge scheduled a Feb. 3 readiness conference and a Feb. 24 preliminary hearing date.

Print this article Back to Top

Comments