The Baltimore man charged with shooting a 2-year-old boy in what police said was an “act of road rage” was ordered held without bail Tuesday.
Javon Johnson, 33, is charged with attempted murder, assault and various handgun related charges, according to police.
At a bail review hearing Tuesday in Baltimore City District Court, Judge Katie O’Hara called Johnson “a tremendous risk to the alleged victim and to public safety.”
Johnson appeared at the hearing via satellite video feed in yellow inmate’s garb and handcuffs, and he remained seated in the back of the jail’s bail review area, instead of approaching the front like other inmates when their cases were called.
He requested a preliminary hearing through the Public Defender’s office. He was ordered to have no further contact with the victim.
Charging documents were not available Tuesday.
Police say Johnson shot the toddler after another car honked at him and passed his car while he was stopped at a green light early Saturday in West Baltimore. Police say Johnson drove up to that car and fired a single shot.
The same weekend the young boy was injured, 16 others also were injured in shootings, including four people killed in incidents across the city during a surge of violence. Recently, police and city leaders had expressed some optimism for a recent slow down of violence.
The city’s ShotSpotter system prompted officers to go to the 600 block of W. Franklin Street, in the Seton Hill neighborhood, at about 12:34 a.m. Saturday, but they found no victims. Police were called later to a hospital where the toddler was being treated.
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said that police believe the driver of the vehicle the boy was riding in had been stopped behind other vehicles at a red light. When the light turned green and the cars didn’t move, the driver “blew the horn several times,” and then drove around the other cars at the light.
Police believe that at that point, the driver of the first car at the light "followed and caught up to the victim’s vehicle, and then fired from his vehicle into the victim’s vehicle, striking the child,” Harrison said.
Family of the boy could not be reached for comment. Police said the child is expected to survive.
Online court records show that Johnson has been in trouble before. In 2018, he was charged with second-degree child abuse, second-degree assault and possession of a deadly weapon with intent to injure, according to court records. According to the charging documents in that case, Johnson’s 12-year-old stepson told police and school officials that Johnson and his mother physically abused him.
The boy told police that his mom and Johnson “began beating on him” after they found a condom. Johnson and his wife asked the boy whether the condom was his and he told them no, but the couple began beating him with a black metal pole, according to the charging documents. He also said Johnson punched him in the chest and his mother slapped him in the face, the charging document said.
The court documents say the boy’s mother told a social worker that she punished her son after he was suspended from school. The mother said he was not allowed to have any candy and had to stay in his room, but Johnson caught the boy sneaking candy. When the couple confronted the boy, his mother struck him with a belt as discipline, but the mother said Johnson never touched the child. She told police “that they don’t discipline each others’ children.”
A physician later evaluated the boy and found injuries consistent with abuse, the document said.
The charges in the 2018 case were placed on the inactive docket. That allows the state to bring the charges within one year.
Zy Richardson, spokesman for the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office, wrote in a statement that an uncooperative witness made the case difficult to prosecute.
“In the previous case involving Mr. Javon Johnson, the witness recanted their original accusation and was unwilling to cooperate forcing our office to proceed within the legal guidelines,” Richardson wrote in an email.
In 2015, Johnson was charged and convicted of second-degree assault. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
Earlier this year, the father of Johnson’s girlfriend filed a peace order seeking protection from Johnson. But District Judge Kevin Michael Wilson later denied the full petition because the man making the allegations — Tarrell Winslow — could not meet the burden of proof, according to court filings.
Winslow wrote in the application for the protective order that “Mr. Johnson had been repeatedly approaching me,” and even approached and harassed a woman Winslow was with on the street. Winslow said the harassment lasted about two months.
“Mr. Johnson terrified me,” Winslow wrote.
Winslow could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Johnson’s family did not return a request for comment.
Baltimore Sun reporters Jessica Anderson and Lillian Reed contributed to this article.