$1million bond set for accused Grand Island shooter

Published: Jun. 1, 2020 at 3:38 PM CDT
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After he refused to appear for a hearing scheduled Friday, Antoine Johnson, 34, made his first appearance in a Grand Island court Monday for a shooting last week in the east part of town.

Johnson, of Lincoln, is charged with Attempted First Degree Murder, First Degree Assault and two counts of Use of a Deadly Weapon to Commit a Felony.

Court records show that Johnson refused his Friday morning court appearance. So the judge had to reschedule his hearing and bond-setting for Monday. Johnson's bond is one million dollars and an evidence hearing is scheduled next month.

Johnson was arrested on May 28 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 he was in critical condition as of Monday afternoon.

About 30 minutes later, 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

when 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.

Court records in a related case indicate the shooting happened when a drug deal went wrong. An affidavit from the case of Roy Rodriguez, 45, Lincoln, who is charged as an accessory in the shooting, show that Rodriguez drove both Zierke and Johnson to Grand Island that night to purchase meth. Johnson gave Zierke money to purchase the drugs at a nearby household. When Zierke failed to return, the affidavit indicates that Rodriguez said Johnson shot Zierke.

Rodriguez then drove Johnson away from the scene. A third person, a female identified as Rodriguez' "significant other", was also in the getaway vehicle. Rodriguez and the female were taken into custody when the state patrol stopped him about 30 minutes later. Johnson escaped and the subsequent manhunt ensued.

Rodriguez faces two counts of accessory to a felony. His bond is set at $250,000 and his next court appearance is in August.

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

The max penalties for the accessory charges Rodriguez faces total 23 years in prison.

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