Bystander, Gunman in DART Shooting Identified

Special Olympics athlete from Plano delegation killed in shooting

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The best friend of Eric Johnson, a bystander killed when a man and a DART officer exchanged gunfire at a train station, says his friend was a loving man and "the nicest person you could ever meet."

    A Special Olympics athlete from the Plano delegation who was waiting for a train was killed when a man and Dallas Area Rapid Transit officer exchanged gunfire at a train station in Richardson on Tuesday.

    Eric Thomas Johnson, 42, of North Dallas, died at Medical Center of Plano on Tuesday night, according to the Dallas Medical Examiner's Office.

    Johnson was one of three people shot on the train platform at the Arapaho Center Station. Another bystander, Russell Weinstein, and a DART Officer Nikisha Manderson were also injured.

    DART Shooting Victim Loved Karaoke, Movies

    [DFW] DART Shooting Victim Loved Karaoke, Movies
    The best friend of Eric Johnson, a bystander killed when a man and a DART officer exchanged gunfire at a train station, says his friend was a loving man and "the nicest person you could ever meet."

    The gunman, Cory Lamar Jones, 27, died after exchanging gunfire with three other officers at a nearby manufacturing facility.

    Friends Say Slain Bystander Took DART Everywhere

    Injured DART Passenger Recalls Shooting

    [DFW] Injured DART Passenger Recalls Shooting
    Russell Weinstein was shot in the shoulder during Tuesday's incident at a DART station.

    Johnson was taking the train to meet his best friend at a movie theater, friends said.

    They said he likely never heard the shots or saw the commotion on the rail platform before he was killed.

    "I hate to say what's going through his mind, but as you work with these adults with cognitive delays, being in a situation like that would be completely strange to them," said John Makuta, Johnson's basketball coach.

    Makuta coached Johnson on a Special Olympics basketball team in Plano for the past 10 years.

    "I will tell you, at times on the basketball court, I had to tell the referees that Eric couldn't hear the whistle," he said. "And sure enough, at least once a game, the whistle would go off, and he'd grab the ball and keep going because he couldn't hear."

    Friends said Johnson didn't let it slow him down.

    "He's not only me friend, he was like a brother," Shay Allen said.

    He said singing karaoke was the only thing Johnson loved more than movies.

    "His karaoke skills need a little help, but he's a good karaoke guy," Allen said.

    Johnson was a regular for Friday night karaoke at Harbor Point, a bar in Richardson.

    "With his challenges, he still had the spirit to get up on stage and sing and act like a rock star," said Tracy Epperson, a bartender at Harbor Point.

    Johnson was always a crowd favorite, she said.

    "When he would get off stage, the crowd would cheer, and he would be like, 'I nailed it,' and everybody was hooping and hollering."

    Friends said Johnson's favorite song to karaoke was "I Believe I Can Fly." They said they believe it was his favorite because he believed he could do anything, despite his disabilities.

    Harbor Point plans to host a celebration of Johnson's life on Friday night's karaoke night.

    Funeral arrangements are still pending.

    Injured Bystander Says He Was "Extremely Lucky"

    Weinstein, a New York City native, was shot in his shoulder. His arm was in a sling Wednesday and he was still in pain, but he said it could have been worse.

    "Extremely lucky -- considering the New York Giants won two days ago, and then this, I'm pretty lucky," he said.

    In an interview Wednesday at his South Dallas home, Weinstein said he learned what a gunshot felt like.

    "Burning, and you know you're shot," he said. "It hurts. It feels like a burn. I knew my shoulder hurt -- I could feel warmth -- so I knew I was bleeding. I just figured at that point I was hit."

    He said he heard Manderson try to question Jones about a bus pass. Weinstein said he was less than 10 feet away when he heard Jones tell the officer, "I just want to get to my destination."

    The next thing he heard was gunfire.

    "I heard two shots," he said. "I saw one guy drop, and then I saw the cop pull her gun and start firing. It happened so quick. Between his two shots and her five shots, it took two second."

    Weinstein said he saw Manderson get shot and felt her bullet hit his shoulder.

    "I realized, 'I'm directly in the line of fire,'" he said. "I felt a shot directly in the right side -- right shoulder -- and I just dropped. She kept firing and I said, 'I'm directly in the line of fire.'"

    He said he saw a bullet fired by Jones hit another bystander about 20 feet away.

    "I knew he was shot the way he fell," Weinstein said. "He didn't stagger back -- he just dropped."

    Richardson police said Tuesday that it was not immediately clear whose bullets struck Weinstein and Johnson.

    Manderson, who was wearing a protective vest, was treated for minor injuries.

    Weinstein said he talked to her while they were being treated.

    "I know one of the shots hit her in the chest, because I saw her notepad, and it had a bullet wound on it," he said. "She showed it to me in the ambulance. She didn't know if she shot me. I said, 'Yeah, you're the one that shot me.' I said, 'I'm not mad at you. He shot the other guy; you shot me.'"

    Gunman Had Criminal History

    Jones fled the train platform and barricaded himself inside a nearby Vent-a-Hood manufacturing facility.

    DART police officers followed him into the warehouse and exchanged gunfire with him.

    They found him dead from a gunshot wound to the head, Richardson police said. Police said Tuesday that it was not yet clear if it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound or if an officer shot him.

    In 2002, Jones (pictured left) pleaded guilty to assault causing bodily injury to a family member, a Class A misdemeanor.

    He was sent to jail for 45 days, according to police records.

    In 2005, Jones was arrested for assault on a public servant. He pleaded guilty to the third-degree felony in a McKinney court.

    Public records show Jones paid $324 in court costs and was on probation for three years and six months.

    NBC 5's Ray Villeda and Ellen Goldberg contributed to this report.


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