Deputies: Inmate ambushed jail officer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 23, 2013

SALISBURY — Willie Johnson Jr. and the Rowan County Detention Center don’t seem to get along.

Johnson, who was mistakenly released from jail last year, was charged Monday with ambushing one jail officer and assaulting a second responding to the altercation.

The 19-year-old intentionally flooded his cell on Jan. 16, according to arrest reports. When officers responded, Johnson was ready.

Jailer C.B. Jackson opened Johnson’s cell about 5 a.m., warrants show. Authorities said Johnson then threw a wet towel over Jackson’s face and began punching him.

A second officer, S.N. Hill, was also struck in the fray.

But Johnson wasn’t aiming for him.

“He said he didn’t mean to hit Hill,” an arrest record quoted Johnson as saying. “Hill got in the way of him hitting Jackson.”

Deputy C.J. Cauble was serving a domestic violence protection order when he was called into the jail to help secure the booking area.

The report did not indicate how long the disturbance lasted.

After securing the area, Cauble found Johnson already in handcuffs.

“Officer Jackson had a swollen left eye,” Cauble wrote in a report. “All parties were soaked with water.”

Johnson, a convicted felon, is a known visitor at the Rowan County jail.

He spent most of 2012 in jail awaiting trial after he was charged last May with robbing a Salisbury Domino’s at gunpoint.

Johnson was mistakenly released May 16 when a misplaced warrant allowed him to post a bond substantially lower than he had been under. Johnson was caught two days later in Concord after a traffic stop.

Prior to Johnson’s capture, Rowan County Sheriff Keven Auten said the teenager should be considered “dangerous.”

“One of his charges in the past that he’s accused of is he broke a window pane and took a piece of glass and tried to stab a Salisbury detective about a month ago,” Auten said at a press conference.

The following month, Johnson was charged again by Salisbury Police with robbing two Norfolk Southern train operators at gunpoint.

Johnson remained in Rowan County jail Wednesday.

He was charged Monday with two additional counts of misdemeanor assault on a law enforcement official. He has a bond of $91,000.

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.