Murder suspected in Perkins

PERKINS TWP. One man is dead after a Saturday night argument erupted between two Perkins Township ne
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



One man is dead after a Saturday night argument erupted between two Perkins Township neighbors.

Andrew D. Johnson, 59, of 3613 Grant Ave., was charged with murder and attempted murder for allegedly shooting his neighbor Gerald Gilliam, 39, who lived next door.

Erie County Prosecutor Kevin Baxter said Sunday night that investigators believe Johnson shot at Gilliam more than once with a .38-caliber pistol.

"A couple shots apparently were fired," Baxter said. "One that we believed was fired and apparently missed the victim and the other that hit him."

A Perkins police officer responded to an emergency call from Gilliam's Grant Avenue home at 9:02 p.m., according to Perkins police Chief Tim McClung.

The officer found Gilliam lying in the yard with a single gun shot wound to his midsection. Gilliam's wife, Sandy, was standing over him.

McClung said Sandy Gilliam directed the officer to Johnson's home where the officer found Johnson holding a hand gun in his right hand. The officer drew his gun and ordered Johnson to drop his weapon, McClung said, and Johnson did as he was told.

Johnson was handcuffed and taken to Erie County Jail, where he was held without bond.

The officer tried to speak to Gilliam, who was unable to respond, McClung said. Gilliam was taken to Firelands Regional Medical Center but died on the operating table later that night, according to McClung.

Details on what started Saturday's dispute are unavailable, but Baxter said the two men engaged in previous altercations.

McClung wouldn't comment on the argument, saying that the incident was still under investigation.

There were no officers on the scene Sunday afternoon, but Gilliam's back yard was outlined with crime scene tape.

Neighbors of the two men had mixed responses when Sunday afternoon about Saturday afternoon's bloodshed.

Those who wanted to talk about the incident didn't know anything and those who knew something weren't willing to talk about it.

Overall, the neighborhood seemed to be quietly recovering from the drama that unfolded the night before.

Some said Johnson and Gilliam may have been involved in a similar heated exchange earlier last week.

Former Grant Street resident and real estate investor Gabriel Boggs was fixing up his former home Sunday afternoon when he learned of Gilliam's death.

Boggs said he grew up with Gilliam and worked with him on occasion.

"I can't believe he's dead," he said. "That's crazy."

Boggs said Gilliam wasn't a bad guy, but was in trouble with the law on more than one occasion.

He said Gilliam worked construction and contracting jobs to earn money and worked with Boggs last summer.

"He was raised properly, but chose to go a different path," Boggs said about Gilliam. "The way the kid lived, I'm surprised he lived as long as he did to tell you the truth."

In addition to murder charges, Johnson was also charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Johnson was originally charged with two counts of attempted murder and felonious assault.

But when Gilliam died later that evening, the felonious assault was upgraded to felony murder and one of the attempted murder charges was dismissed, Baxter said.