By Bonnie Culverhouse
While two Minden residents are in jail on drug charges, a third will never see the inside of the prison.
Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper said a suspect identified as Fred Johnson Jr., who was residing with a girlfriend in Minden, collapsed and died Wednesday night after running from law enforcement.
“We received a tip from one of the motels on Shreveport Road, in reference to a room rented to someone who had been there all day long,” Cropper said. “The person said he had seen cars going in and out of there the entire time. He also said he had seen a black Z-28 in there at least three times.”
Just before midnight Wednesday, Cropper said Capt. Kirk Morgan set up on Shreveport Road to observe the motel’s entrance and exit.
“Capt. Morgan saw the black Z-28 come in, stay a short period of time and then come out,” said the chief. “The vehicle, driven by Johnson, turned right on Shreveport Road, going toward Weston Street.”
Morgan reportedly fell in behind the vehicle, which turned right on Weston going toward Bayou Avenue.
“Capt. Morgan paced the vehicle at 47 miles per hour,” Cropper said. “The speed limit is 25, so he had probably cause to make a traffic stop. Morgan turned on his blue lights, but Johnson floored the vehicle, turned onto Bayou and took off.”
Morgan reportedly lost sight of the vehicle for a time, but picked up his taillights at the stop sign on Pine Street, while calling for aid.
“Johnson had the lefthand turn signal on, but he turned right,” Cropper said. “Lt. Chris McClaran was coming from Main Street down Pine. By the time they got there, the driver had pulled up into the driveway of a residence and abandoned the vehicle.”
McClaran reportedly observed the man leave the vehicle and got a description of his clothing.
“They cleared the car and contacted the sheriff’s office to get some assistance in locating the man on foot,” said the chief. “Deputy Mathew Hicks found the suspect. They had notified Lt. Chris Hammontree to bring the K-9 out there to see if the K-9 could pick up a scent. It wasn’t long before Hicks walked up on to a black male lying face down in front of one of the Miller Street apartments … unresponsive.”
Chief said officers gave the man, identified as Johnson, verbal commands, but he was motionless.
“When they approached him, he had one arm underneath his body,” Cropper said. “They pulled out that arm and rolled him over. He was foaming at the mouth and had a faint pulse.”
An ambulance was dispatched and EMS reportedly worked on Johnson for a while before he was transported to Minden Medical Center ER, where he was pronounced deceased.
Cropper said Methamphetamine was found in Johnson’s vehicle, along with a set of scales.
“Based off that information, and what we learned from that motel room, they obtained a search warrant to go back and search the room,” said the chief. “Inside that room were Dominick Gill and Mallory Merritt.”
Gill, 21, of the 200 block of Camp Street, was arrested by Det. Shane Griffith for possession of Sch. I synthetic Marijuana, CDS Sch. 1 natural Marijuana, Sch. II Methamphetamine, Sch. II Crack Cocaine, Sch. II Hydrocidine and Sch. IV Diazapram, all with intent to distribute.
Merritt, 23, of the 100 block of Milton Drive, Minden, was arrested by detectives Kenneth James, Keith King Jr. and Shane Griffith for possession of Sch. I synthetic Marijuana, Sch. II Methamphetamine and prostitution.
Both were transported to Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center.
Johnson’s body has been sent to the coroner’s office in Little Rock, Ark. for autopsy.