MESQUITE -- Dallas cop killer Micah Johnson had a grenade and prescription pills hidden in his Army sleeping bag in Afghanistan during a search of his belongings shortly before he left active duty in 2014, newly-released Army records show.
The records also detail the Army investigation into Johnson’s theft of panties from a female soldier in his engineering brigade while in Afghanistan. That soldier, a former friend of Johnson’s, filed a sexual harassment claim against Johnson, which was sustained. Still, Johnson was released from active duty "with an honorable characterization of service" in August 2014, and finished his reserve duties the next year, Army officials say.
On July 7, Johnson killed four Dallas police officers – Sgt. Michael J. Smith, Sr. Cpl. Lorne B. Ahrens, Officer Patricio E. Zamarripa and Officer Michael Krol – and Dallas Area Rapid Transit Officer Brent Thompson at the end of a Black Lives Matter protest. Nine other officers and two civilians were also injured.
Dallas SWAT officers blew Johnson up with an explosive attached to a robot following a standoff at El Centro College. During the standoff, he told police he wanted to kill officers because he was upset over recent police shootings of African Americans in Minnesota and Baton Rouge.
During the search of the Johnson’s Mesquite home, which he shared with his mother, detectives found bomb making materials, ballistic vests, rifles, ammunition, and a personal journal of combat tactics, police said.
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On Friday, new details also surfaced about a strange visit Johnson made to Mesquite police headquarters. In January 2011, Johnson went to the station on North Galloway Avenue acting suspiciously. According to a police report, Johnson was “visibly upset” and “bouncing from side to side.”
Johnson told an officer that a woman had “lied” to him (she is not named in the report), and that “he did not have anywhere else to go.” Johnson said that although upset, he did not feel like hurting himself or others. He added that “he has felt like this in the past, but not this bad,” the police report states.
Johnson told an officer he didn’t want to see a mental health professional, and he didn’t want to call his mother, with whom he lived. Instead, Johnson, who was in the Army reserves at the time before his overseas deployment on active duty, called an Army friend, who picked him up.
Johnson was in the Army from 2009 to 2015 with the 420th engineering brigade based in Seagoville, Texas. From September 2013 to August 2014, he was deployed to Afghanistan, where he was a carpentry and masonry specialist.
Army records released Friday show that Johnson and a female soldier became friends when they were stationed in Hawaii. Both told investigators that their relationship was platonic, but the woman said Johnson often made crude sexual remarks.
When her underwear went missing from a laundry bag at Forward Operating Base Shank in Logar province in Afghanistan on May 1, 2014, Army commanders quickly found it in Johnson’s belongings. Records show that Johnson tried to throw the underwear away, but was caught with it.
“I asked why he tried to dispose of the panties and he said he didn’t want to get the other party in trouble,” the Army report says, quoting an Army official (whose name is redacted) who questioned Johnson. “I asked who he meant and he stated he received the panties at Camp Shelby from a female he dated some years previous.”
Investigators, though, believed he had stolen them from the female soldier at FOB Shank, who is not identified in the records.
To separate him from the female soldier, commanders quickly ordered him escorted to Bagram Airfield on May 3, 2014. Johnson had not had time to pack his belongings, so others were ordered to do it for him. On May 14, 2014, soldiers found a “single M169, 40mm High Explosive Dual Purpose MK19 grenade” and a “plastic baggie of medicine” labeled with someone else’s name in Johnson’s sleeping bag.
The investigation ultimately concluded that Johnson “was storing an explosive article in a barracks facility where soldiers lived. PFC Johnson did not have any reason to be in possession [of] the explosive device.”
The Army investigation also looked into the underwear theft and sexual harassment allegations.
The investigation report quotes long sections of statements Johnson gave Army investigators about his relationship with the female soldier he was accused of stealing from and harassing.
“[She and] I got to know each other at our first A.T. in [Hawaii]. We got along immediately [and] always hung out. One night on the beach together I knew she was special... After the A.T., we talked or texted every day. I knew her family [and] friends and she knew mine. We went out together a couple of times every month to party, movie, or just hung out. On drill weekends she’d come spend the night with me at my mother’s house [and] we’d drive to drill in the morning. We were always there for one another when we were having problems in life or just needed to listen. Even though it took other people forever to understand. It was a platonic relationship. What we had was more important to let [illegible] it. We were excited to deploy together [and] see each other every day. We got along fine besides the normal once in a while disagreement. But over time the little things started to add up and after a discussion we decided to end our friendship. Although we could still laugh [and] make jokes with each other we were just acquaintances and would never be the sure. Although I cared a lot about her we just weren’t what we used to be.”
The female soldier also described her and Johnson’s friendship – and some of the turmoil between them.
She said they were friends “for the past five years, since I joined the unit. We’ve had small fights and disagreements in the past. … As for our current state, there are crude comments referenced in a sexual manner every once in a while, but I put a stop to them instantly. Prior to this incident, we hadn’t spoken for a month or so due to ending our friendship, outside of work.”
Johnson had tried to get a pair of her underwear before, she told investigators.
“At Camp Shelby when PFC Johnson asked for a pair of my underwear, I immediately told him ‘no,’” she is quoted as saying. “For five years, I believed PFC Johnson to be my friend. I grew up with guys, family and friend-wise. I work in a predominantly male profession in engineering. This is not justification to not report SHARP, but an explanation of why I felt Johnson was ‘playing around’ rather than harassing me.”
“Based upon the recent incident of my underwear being stolen, I consider all of PFC Johnson’s previous comments and actions as sexual harassment,” she told investigators.
Johnson offered his own version of how their relationship soured.
“I don’t recall the discussion, with [her] where we ended our friendship entirely but what was basically said was, ‘It’s my life and I make the decisions,’ that ‘I want to because they’re my choice. And I’m getting tired of you getting mad at me for my life choices,’ and ‘I don’t like how you’re talking down on me, like you’re better than me. If you don’t want to be friends anymore fine.’ A while back I did tell her I was seeing another female.”
The Army ultimately found that Johnson did sexually harass the female soldier through his comments and actions.
Still, Johnson's Army stint ended honorably.
“Johnson was not discharged from the Army," said Army spokesman Col. Patrick R. Seiber. "He was released from active duty with an honorable characterization of service on 24 Aug. 14 upon the completion of his required active service, and he was reassigned to the US Army Reserve Control Group (Annual Training) on 13 May 15 upon the expiration of his U.S. Army Reserve service obligation. He was a member of the Individual Ready Reserve at the time of his death.”