Owings Mills man freed in Randallstown shooting

A former Randallstown High School student who had been jailed since shortly after last month's shooting at the Baltimore County school was freed yesterday after prosecutors dropped attempted-murder charges against him.

In announcing that charges had been dropped against 20-year-old Ronald Patrick Johnson Jr. of Owings Mills, Baltimore County Deputy State's Attorney Stephen Bailey said there wasn't evidence linking him to the shooting.

"There is no evidence that he brought a gun to this altercation, no evidence that he ever handled the gun, fired it or discarded it after the shooting," Bailey said. "He bears no legal responsibility in this shooting."

Flanked by his mother, brother, sister and other supporters yesterday, Johnson said he was relieved the five-week ordeal was over. He had been held without bail since his arrest.

"It's been rough," Johnson said, standing on the District Courthouse steps in Towson. "It was real. God is good, and so is my lawyer."

As he spoke, Johnson stood arm-in-arm with his mother, Audra Travers.

"I just cooperated because I knew I was innocent," he said. "It was frustrating because I was on suicide watch. ... I guess they thought I was going to crack."

On May 7, as students were leaving Randallstown High School after a charity basketball game organized by a state lawmaker, shooting erupted in the parking lot.

Antonio R. Jackson, 21, of Owings Mills, Tyrone Devon Brown, 23, of Baltimore and Matthew Timothy McCullough, 17, a Randallstown High School student, have been indicted on charges of attempted first-degree murder, as well as assault and handgun charges.

Travers said she always believed in her son's innocence.

"I have a lot of faith in the Lord, and I didn't doubt it at any time," Travers said. She said that seeing her son's picture on the front page of the newspaper was painful.

"It was like he was being crucified," Travers said. "The first day that I saw his picture in the paper, I felt like I was looking at his obituary. I knew he was in a world of trouble. The first week was the lowest time in my life."

Attorney A. Dwight Pettit, who represented Johnson, acknowledges his client was involved in a fight at the school the afternoon of the shooting but said his client was simply "in the wrong place at the wrong time."

"We are thankful the Baltimore County state's attorney's office and the police did a thorough investigation," Pettit said. "He had no contact with the weapon. He never shot the gun. He never saw the gun. In fact, he almost was a victim himself because a bullet grazed his head."

Shortly after the shooting, Johnson was arrested as he tried to purchase a T-shirt at a clothing store on Reisterstown Road in Pikesville, near where a black BMW that authorities said had been driven from the shooting scene was abandoned.

According to court documents, a witness told police she saw Johnson sitting in a black BMW "doing what she believed to be loading a gun or putting something together during the altercation at Randallstown High School."

But Bailey said yesterday that further investigation determined that the witness was describing someone else.

Johnson, who graduated from Randallstown High in 2002, said yesterday he felt good about his release from jail, but, "it ain't gonna be official till I get home."