Attempted murder hearing postponed to Monday in Grand Island

Published: May. 29, 2020 at 11:43 AM CDT
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A judge had to reschedule a Grand Island hearing for a man accused of attempted murder when the suspect refused his court appearance.

Antoine Johnson, 34, is charged with Attempted First Degree Murder, First Degree Assault and two counts of Use of a Deadly Weapon to Commit a Felony and was scheduled Friday in Hall County Court.

He's charged in connection with the Thursday morning shooting of Gary Zierke III.

Court records show that Johnson refused his Friday morning court appearance. So the judge had to reschedule his hearing and bond-setting for Monday morning. It's not clear why Johnson refused the court appearance.

Court records also show the investigation into the shooting is continuing. Law enforcement officers wanted to question another possible victim who was reportedly pushed into Johnson's getaway vehicle at gunpoint. this victim is believed to have witnessed the shooting.

The Hall County Attorney claims that public disclosure of more information about the case may influence witness statements and so a judge approved a request to seal an affidavit which had more details about the shooting incident.

Johnson was arrested after an 18-hour man-hunt just south of the Henderson exit on Interstate 80.

Grand Island police were called to the intersection of Sycamore and Oklahoma streets about

and found 31-year-old Gary Zierke III, of Lincoln, on the ground nearby. Police said Zierke had a gunshot wound to the head.

A neighbor who witnessed the shooting was bringing a cup of tea to his wife when he heard what sounded like a firecracker. When he saw the body outside his house, he knew something bad happened.

Nick Kshywonis, told Local4, "I didn't think he was going to make it but then I saw the ambulance got here. They got him on the stretcher, they had an iv bag, so I assumed he at least survived at that point."

Zierke was eventually transported to CHI-Bergan Mercy Hospital in Omaha where at last check he was in critical condition.

About 12:50 a.m. Thursday, a trooper observed a Chevrolet Trailblazer traveling eastbound on Interstate 80 near Aurora. The vehicle matched the description of one being sought by Grand Island Police in connection with the shooting.

The trooper initiated a traffic stop near mile marker 335. Two occupants of the vehicle were quickly taken into custody, but the patrol said Johnson fled the traffic stop on foot. Additional troopers and Hamilton County Sheriff’s Deputies arrived on scene to search the area.

Law enforcement continued searching the area throughout the day. The State Patrol told Local4

Johnson was found in a ditch near the intersection of Road B and Road 9 just south of the Henderson exit. Police found him trying to conceal himself in the ditch upon their arrival.

Grand Island police said Thursday that the shooting was drug-related.

The max penalties for conviction on the charges Johnson faces total 200 years in prison.