SAN JOSE—On March 24, a suicidal suspect in possession of a high-powered rifle shot and killed a longtime veteran of the San Jose Police Department.
Officer Michael Johnson is the first San Jose police officer to be killed in 14 years after he was gunned-down by Scott Dunham, a 57-year-old that was intoxicated and reportedly holding a firearm to his head.
Following reports that he was threatening to kill himself, officers were called to Dunham’s apartment, located on the 2600 block of Senter Road. The call came in from one of Dunham’s children after the suspect allegedly threatened to kill his wife if she didn’t vacate the premises.
Arriving to the scene at 7:08 p.m., officers quickly surrounded the apartment in an attempt to contain Dunham.
According to police, Dunham ambushed the group of three responding officers, opening fire on Johnson while standing on a balcony. One of Johnson’s comrades, 16-year veteran Douglas Potwora, fired a return shot at Dunham.
Johnson, a decorated field training officer with 14 years of experience, died at the scene.
His shooting brought-on a massive police presence to Senter Road, as SWAT officers and armored vehicles were called in to bring the suspect to justice.
Believing Dunham to be holed-up in his apartment, police issued a nine-hour lockdown of the area before rushing inside the building and finding Dunham dead on the balcony, killed by officer Powora’s pinpoint shot.
In the aftermath of the shooting, the city of San Jose, the SJPD, and Johnson’s family grieve the loss of the fallen officer. Vigils are being held at Senter Road and City Hall tomorrow night, and a large memorial service is expected to take place in honor of Johnson.
“This has been San Jose’s darkest hour,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “Our hearts go out to the family, the friends and colleagues of the fallen officer. This strikes at the heart of all of us here in San Jose and throughout the region.” The mayor said he had visited the family of the slain officer, who was engaged to be married.”