Man sentenced to up to 25 years for targeting truckers in mass shooting attempt

A man who admitted to targeting truck drivers with gunfire at an Iowa truck stop in 2018 has been sentenced to prison.

On Friday, June 7, 61 year old former college professor Charles S. Johnston, 61, was sentenced to up to 25 years in prison in a Cedar County, Iowa, court, according to a report from the Quad City Times.

Johnston pled guilty to four charges of four counts of intimidation with a dangerous weapon and one count of assault on a peace officer in exchange for prosecutors dropping an attempted murder charge.

The charges stem from an incident that happened on the afternoon of January 11, 2018, in Atalissa, Iowa.

Around 2:15 p.m., the Cedar County Sheriff’s Office received multiple calls about Johnston, who was driving a small black car, firing shots at the I-80 eastbound rest area at mile marker 265.

From the rest area, police say that Johnston drove west to the Pilot truck stop in Atalissa, where a truck driver attempted to put a stop to his actions.

Trucker Taking Fire Used Big Rig To Pin Suspect’s Car
According to the Cedar County Sheriff’s Office, a truck driver was pulling out of the Pilot onto Atalissa Road at the same time that Johnston was pulling in. Johnston fired several shots out of the driver’s side window at the truck driver.

After the shots were fired, the truck driver saw Johnston maneuver behind his truck on the passenger side. Police say that the truck driver then swerved and hit the car, leaving the car partially wedged under his trailer.

After being struck by the semi truck, Johnston continued to shoot into the truck’s passenger side door.

An Iowa State trooper soon arrived on the scene. Johnston opened fire on the trooper but only hit his patrol car. Officers returned fire. After a standoff with state and local law enforcement, Johnston finally surrendered and was taken into police custody.

No one was injured during the shooting incident.

Man Angry With Truckers Over Incident That Didn’t Happen
After his arrest, Johnston told police that he was “enraged or obsessed over a family [member] that was killed in an accident with a semi and that the motive behind his actions was to harm a truck driver or truck drivers in retaliation.”

Specifically, Johnston told police that he believed that he had witnessed a semi truck driver run his family member off the road, leading to their death. However, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation found no evidence to support Johnston’s claim.

Police found marijuana, pills, and drug paraphernalia in Johnston’s vehicle.

At the time of his arrest, Johnston was employed as a professor of psychology at Harper College in Palatine. He has been fired.

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