|H&N photo by Andrew Mariman|
Jesse Johnson was killed at 109 Michigan Ave., pictured here, after taking a baby hostage Friday night.
Hostage-taker was on antidepressants, alcohol
April 22, 2007
A man who held a baby hostage in a downtown home
Friday night apparently became erratic after he
consumed a mixture of antidepressant medication and
alcohol, authorities reported.
Jesse Lee Johnson, 27, was shot and killed by a
Klamath Falls police officer after he told authorities
he was on alcohol and methamphetamine and was ready to
kill his girlfriend's 11-month-old son, said Klamath
County District Attorney Ed Caleb. It was unclear
Saturday whether Johnson was on meth.
Investigators later discovered he took medication with
alcohol right before the hostage situation.
Those who knew Johnson told investigators he had a
history of delusional behavior after mixing the drugs.
The incident began between 6 and 7 p.m. when his
girlfriend left the baby alone with Johnson. After
leaving, she called him at their home at 109 Michigan
Ave. She noticed he sounded delusional and aggressive
over the phone, investigators said.
The baby's grandmother heard about the situation and
called 911 just before 7 p.m., and Klamath Falls
police officers responded. They surrounded the home
and attempted to negotiate with Johnson.
Investigators still don't know what Johnson was hoping
to accomplish by taking the baby hostage.
A police officer approached Johnson from behind after
he walked outside the home while holding a knife to
the boy's throat. With his handgun, the officer fired
one shot, hitting the back of Johnson's head. The
maneuver allowed the officer to get a clear shot
without harming the baby, Caleb said.
Johnson died after being taken to Merle West Medical
Center. The baby was taken into custody of the state's
Department of Human Services.
Caleb would not release the name of the police officer
who fired the shot, saying it would be released at a
On Wednesday, a grand jury will hear the case
concerning the officer to determine whether he
complied with police procedures. The officer was
placed on administrative leave, pending an
investigation by the county's major crime team headed
by the sheriff's office.
Oregon law says a law enforcement officer can use
deadly force when his life or the life of others is in
“My preliminary investigation shows that it was a
justifiable homicide in that a police officer had to
make a quick choice to save an 11-month-old child,”
Johnson had past run-ins with law, including charges
in 2003 of interfering with a police officer,
disorderly conduct and vandalism.
- By Laura McVicker