7-Eleven owner charged in death of fleeing man


The 48-year-old owner of a Northwest Baltimore 7-Eleven has been charged with shooting a customer to death after an argument in the convenience store Saturday afternoon, police said yesterday.

John Howard Johnson of Cockeysville was charged with first-degree murder and a handgun violation, police said.

The victim, whom police have not been able to identify, was shot once in the back inside the bay door of an auto repair shop three blocks from the convenience store on Reisterstown Road near the Baltimore County line.

Agent Doug Price, a police spokesman, said the victim, a man described only as in his 20s, walked into the 7-Eleven store in the 6400 block of Reisterstown Road about 2:45 p.m. Saturday.

Agent Price said that the man apparently was handling some merchandise in the store and that Mr. Johnson may have confronted him, thinking he was shoplifting.

Police pieced together the following account of what apparently happened from several witnesses.

After the two argued, Mr. Johnson followed the man out of the store, Agent Price said. "Whether [the man] had merchandise on him at that time, or whether [Mr. Johnson] chased him for some other reason, we don't know," Agent Price said.

After the man left the store, Mr. Johnson drove after him in his silver 1987 Mercedes and caught up with him in the 4000 block of Strathmore Ave. near the intersection with Reisterstown Road, police said. Mr. Johnson ordered the man into the car and allegedly fired a warning shot in the air when the man did not comply, police said.

Agent Price said the man then got into the car but jumped out and ran toward the Auto Glo Body Shop in the 6100 block of Reisterstown Road.Police said the man was shot in the back and collapsed inside the shop's bay doors. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Agent Price said Mr. Johnson drove back to the 7-Eleven, where he told employees that he had to go to a nearby Roy Rogers restaurant for a business meeting, apparently with potential buyers of the convenience store. He was arrested inside the restaurant about 4 p.m.

Mr. Johnson was being held at the lockup at the Northwestern District police station pending a bail review hearing.

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