An Edgartown man was arrested at gunpoint last Thursday afternoon after he tried to pull a handgun from his backpack at a construction site on Fisher Road. Emery E. Johnson, 38, of 40 Pine street, was apprehended by police following a brief chase through a wooded area and charged with possession of a firearm without a license.
He is currently being held on $5,000 bail at the Dukes County Jail.
Edgartown police were first dispatched around 3 p.m. to the duplex owned by the Dukes County Housing Authority at 19 Fisher Road. They learned a man — later identified as Mr. Johnson — had entered one of the properties there and produced a firearm to a member of a construction crew from O’Brien Property Management, who was repairing one of the units damaged in a fire last November.
One of the workers was able to disarm Mr. Johnson of his 357 Magnum revolver, although Mr. Johnson made reference to a second firearm before fleeing on foot.
According to an incident report from Edgartown detective Jonathan Searle, Mr. Johnson walked by the site and talked with one of the workers earlier in the morning and returned shortly after, this time entering one of the upstairs units. One of the workers, Rolston Hunter, told Mr. Johnson he was not allowed on the property and escorted him outside.
Mr. Johnson reportedly got defensive, and repeatedly told Mr. Hunter not to assault him.
When the two got outside, Mr. Johnson took off the backpack, put it on the ground and started to unzip it.
“[Mr. Hunter] stated that he was very uneasy at this point so he approached the suspect to see what he was getting out of the backpack. As he neared, [Mr. Hunter] saw that it was a handgun in a black case,” Mr. Searle wrote in his report.
Mr. Hunter immediately grabbed the weapon and took it away from Mr. Johnson and later called the police. Mr. Johnson said he had a second weapon, a 9 millimeter pistol, and also demanded Mr. Hunter give him back the 357 Magnum. Mr. Hunter said he was going to hand the gun over to police when they arrived. But when police did arrive Mr. Johnson fled into the nearby woods.
A second weapon was never recovered, and police discovered the 357 Magnum was not loaded.
Edgartown police then searched the area, joined by Oak Bluffs and state police. They concentrated on the area around 40 Pine street, where Mr. Johnson rents a room. At some point during the search Mr. Johnson reportedly called the Dukes County communications center to ask if police were looking for him.
According to a prepared statement from the Edgartown police department, Mr. Johnson was located hiding amongst leaves and debris near a porch at a nearby residence and taken into custody without incident.
When police did find Mr. Johnson, detective Searle drew his firearm and ordered Mr. Johnson to show his hands. He did not immediately comply, and instead clutched something in his hand that was later discovered to be his cell phone. Police said the investigation is ongoing, and further charges may be forthcoming.