An Opelika, Ala., man was taken into custody Thursday morning outside Columbus Recorder’s court after Muscogee County Sheriff’s Deputies discovered a gun and ammunition in a backpack he was carrying.
Billy Johnson, 31, was charged with three felonies, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, theft by receiving property stolen in another state and crossing a guard line with a weapon.
Deputies spent much of the day trying to determine who Johnson was and what his motive was when he was observed loitering outside the court.
“My deputies observed this man kind of lingering in the area,” Tompkins said. “He had been there for some time. In fact, the warden observed him when he was coming in at 9 o’clock in the morning. … Another deputy observed him in a way that he described as hidden behind the tree, searching for something.”
The gun that officers found in Johnson’s backpack was reported stolen out of Dallas, Texas. Johnson told deputies he purchased it from a pawn shop. The sheriff says he did have a permit to carry it. Johnson said he was waiting for a cousin who was in court to take him back to Alabama, the sheriff said.
The problem is Recorder’s Court is attached to the Muscogee County Jail and Johnson crossed the guard line with the gun, which is a felony.
The sheriff praised the work of the deputies to identify a possible problem.
“This gentleman was outside, behind a tree,” she said. “I am very proud that our deputies realized that something about that situation was not right and approached him. It could be very dangerous. He had a weapon. And we don’t know yet exactly what he was doing there. And what he was looking for.”
Johnson will appear in court at 9 Friday morning.