PORTAGE — Jordan M. Scott followed David M. Johnson to work at Subway in Portage on Thursday morning with one intention, police said.
“Our suspect came up specifically, we feel at that time, to shoot and kill David Johnson,” said Portage police Detective Lt. Mark Hahn.
Johnson, 22, of rural Pardeeville, died after being shot more than five times. He “was shot in cold blood, that’s what it boils down to,” Hahn said.
Scott, 19, of rural Rio, was arrested an hour later in Columbus and was booked into the Columbia County Jail on a tentative charge of first-degree intentional homicide.
Both were employees of the Subway restaurant at 2931 New Pinery Road, not far from Interstate 39. Scott has worked there about two years and was possibly going to be trained as a manager; Johnson had worked at the restaurant since he was a teenager, Hahn said.
“They had both been written up” last week over a heated argument that took place at work, Hahn said, and they had worked together at Subway after the argument.
Attempts to reach the restaurant’s management were not successful Thursday.
Johnson was arriving for work at 9 a.m., Hahn said, and had parked his vehicle in the parking lot behind the building when Scott, following in his own vehicle, parked nearby.
Johnson was walking past the rear of his vehicle when Scott approached him, said something and fired a handgun at Johnson. Scott continued to fire after Johnson fell to the ground, Hahn said.
“Basically, Scott knew when Johnson was supposed to be at work today and he confronted him when he arrived,” he said.
Hahn declined to say what Scott said to Johnson before shooting him. “That may come out in the criminal complaint,” he said.
The 911 call came from the nearby Allstate insurance office, and Allstate employees and others inside Subway ran out when they heard the gunshots. Information from the witnesses led authorities to search for a red Ford Focus that Scott was driving, Hahn said.
After a statewide alert about the vehicle, police in Columbus, about 30 miles away, spotted it on Highway 73 near Highway 151. The officers pulled behind the car, which made a couple of turns before they stopped the vehicle.
Scott was arrested without incident at 9:56 a.m., Columbus Police Lt. Dennis Weiner said.
Hahn declined to say why Scott was in Columbus.
Two weapons, a .40-caliber handgun and a rifle, were found in the vehicle, Hahn said.
Courtney Gawel, who graduated from Portage High School with Johnson in 2009, remembered her former classmate as a tall, well-liked intellectual who “never said anything bad about anybody.”
“He was super smart,” she said. “I don’t think he had a mean bone in his body, honestly.”
Johnson played on the high school tennis team for two years, sang in the choir and participated in musicals, said Mike Powers, his former choir teacher.
“He just had the most wonderful, laid-back sense of humor and the brightest smile,” Powers said. “He was the master of ceremonies at my last Cabaret (in the spring of 2009). All the kids loved him because there’s just not a mean bone in his body. He didn’t deserve this.”
Johnson’s murder was the first in Portage since Tammy Garlin was killed in a home on Oneida Street in 2007.
Cheryl Thompson, whose daughter had worked until recently at the Subway, said a friend called her daughter shortly after the shooting, and the daughter came to the restaurant to be with other employees.
Thompson said she had lived in Southern California, where fatal shootings were so common they garnered little attention from the public. Portage, she said, is not such a place.
“You could never think that this would happen in this town,” she said.