“You pee on that wall and I’ll kill you.”
A few weeks ago there was that story where a guy was found frozen in a Detroit warehouse. Remember that? With the photo of his leg sticking up out of the ice? Story got a lot of attention for obvious reasons, not the least of which was because the Detroit News story that brought attention to that frozen leg interviewed a number of folks who were apparently aware of the frozen dead guy but didn’t seem to care enough to want to do anything about it. The most glaring example, you may recall, were those ‘urban adventurers’ (most likely not actually from Detroit) who were playing ice hockey on the frozen pool of water inside the building where the body was found. Sure, they knew about the body but why let a frozen dead guy get in the way of a good hockey game? That would spoil their ‘urban adventure’.
Yeah. So anyway, my point at the time when I decided to comment on this particular story was to point out that as horrific as this particular incident was, folks need to keep in mind that this one incident does not represent the entire city, as the article in some ways seemed to imply. Things are bad here, no doubt, but I’m pretty sure the majority of Detroiters would at the very least feel compelled to make a call when confronted with a dead body frozen in plain view in a block of ice. Of course there are those folks who don’t really know Detroit who have no problem believing such a heartless portrayal of who we are because that’s the only portrayal they’ve ever seen. And so, for whoever may have been listening, I felt I owed it to our city to say something in her defense. Because I know we are so much better than that. Even now. Even today.
But having said that (that’s right, here it comes), Detroit does make it hard sometimes. Because sometimes you feel like no matter how hard you may try to defend this city’s honor when everyone else is setting fire to it, Detroit keeps on bringing bigger, more flammable logs to the fire than everyone else. And you have to ask yourself; what kind of twisted shit is this? What manner of warped brain brings his own stake to the bonfire where he is to be burned at the stake?
Which brings me, at long last, to another one of those news stories – this time in the Free Press – that a lover of Detroit instinctively wants to stomp into the ground and then curse out the editor for publishing yet another negative story the likes of which they seem to specialize in so well. But then there is that other voice inside your head – the one you try to keep muzzled in the closet behind the brooms – that quietly whispers what you already know; namely that if this shit wasn’t happening then nobody could be writing stories about it. Like the story (see below) about the store owner who shot and killed a guy for pissing on his building. The guy, insofar as has been reported thus far, had no priors and his neighbors all seemed to think he was a decent enough guy. Just a small business owner trying to maintain his business in what may very well be one of the toughest times of his life, or at least one of the toughest times he has ever experienced as a business owner. So then here comes some guy and there he is, and he’s, like, well shit he’s pissing on my fucking wall.
So naturally this store owner doesn’t know that the guy just picked up his wife from her job and then took her to dinner. But then after dinner the car gets a flat, and then the police pull him over to the side of the street. And of course that’s when they find out that this guy is driving on a suspended license and some other shit, so the police impound the car on the spot and have it towed. The officer offers the guy and his wife a ride home but he declines the offer. They decide to walk it. And you know this guy has got to be seething, I mean for this to be happening on this day, and in front of his wife? And then he feels nature call and he figures fuck it. If I had my car I could hold it until we got home, but I don’t and here I am so I’m gonna piss up against this damned wall. At which point the owner of that wall comes out and tells him to stop and they get into it and the owner tells somebody to go get his gun which they do and then he shoots the pisser dead. Right there in front of the guy’s wife.
And it was after reading this that I began to wonder…damn.
Is it really this bad after all?
1st-degree murder charge filed in urination shooting
BY TAMMY STABLES BATTAGLIA AND BEN SCHMITT
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS
A 69-year-old Detroit business owner facing accusations of gunning down a man for urinating on his building was charged today with first-degree murder.
Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced the charge against Leroy Moon, who owns Asian Fisheries on Gratiot. If convicted, Moon faces a mandatory life prison sentence.
Moon was arraigned at 5:30 p.m. in 36th District Court via video from a police holding cell.
Chief Magistrate Steve Lockhart ordered Moon held without bond, despite arguments from defense attorney Marlon Blake Evans that Moon was not a flight risk.
Evans asked Lockhart to consider the source of the version of events, referring to the victim’s wife as the only witness.
“He’s never done anything like this,” Evans said of Moon. “He’s owned that business for years. I’m quite sure it’s not the first time someone urinated on his building.”
Still, Lockhart ordered Moon held without bond until his March 3 preliminary examination.
Moon is accused of shooting and killing Shawn Johnson, a 36-year-old janitor at a Detroit Public Schools elementary school, on Tuesday.
Johnson’s wife, Mildred Johnson, told freep.com that she can’t comprehend how someone could kill her husband for urinating.
“I want to know what state of mind he was in,” said Mildred Johnson, 35, who lives a couple of blocks from where her husband died Tuesday night on Gratiot Avenue in Detroit. “Why did he have to shoot? He could’ve called the police. I was screaming, telling him, ‘Please don’t kill him! Please don’t kill him!’ And he continued to shoot. I feel he should pay for what he did. It was a wrongful death.”
Moon appears to have no felony convictions, according to state Corrections records.
“I still can’t imagine,” Mildred Johnson said, on her way today to plan the funeral for her husband, instead of celebrating their 4-year wedding anniversary, which was Wednesday. “Using the bathroom on somebody’s property is something men do all the time. I’m not saying it’s right. It’s something the rain would’ve washed away.”
She had just gone out for dinner with her husband, a janitor at White Elementary School, after he picked her up from work as a para-professional educator at Heilmann Park Middle School. But as the pair was driving home, they got a flat tire. Detroit Police pulled them over as they drove to a place to fix the flat and then towed the car because of driving infractions.
Shawn Johnson was on probation at the time of his death for an assault with a dangerous weapon conviction, according to Michigan Department of Corrections records. His driver’s license expired in 1998 and was never renewed, according to the Secretary of State.
They were walking home, a couple of blocks away, when nature called, she said.
“Usually, they with their wife, pretty much people don’t disrespect their wife like that,” by urinating in public, said Shawn Johnson’s aunt, a lifelong Detroiter who now lives in Syracuse, N.Y. She still can’t believe her nephew was shot, despite crime in the area. “There’s a lot of stuff going on there.”
Mildred Johnson said Moon approached her husband, told him to stop urinating and told another man to get his gun. When Shawn Johnson started walking away, still urinating but off Moon’s property, Moon pushed him from behind, Mildred Johnson said.
“And Shawn turned around and started cussing him out,” she said. “And the younger guy walked up to him and the older guy started shooting. He wasn’t even on his property when he got shot.”
Other business owners in the neighborhood describe Moon as a giving person who would feed those in need and help others.
“Peeing on the side of the building isn’t going to make someone that mad,” said David Short, owner of Gratiot Pelkey Auto Repair next door. “There are a lot worse things going on where we’re at.”
Tanya Armstrong, who works across the street at Lewis Tool Rental, said the alleged gunman is a “gentleman.”
“That doesn’t seem like something he would do,” Armstrong said.
“I just figured this had something to do with a robbery attempt,” Armstrong said.
Mildred Johnson said she wants to attend Moon’s court hearings to find out his motives.
“If he was such a nice person, why would he take it upon himself to shoot someone for peeing?” Mildred Johnson said. “If he was such a nice person, why is my husband lying in the ground? Maybe he was nice to some people. Maybe he was having a bad day. Only he can answer that.”