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Man Who Led Police on Chase over Lookout Mt. Indicted as Felon Possessing Gun

BIRMINGHAM – A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted for illegal gun possession a northeast Alabama man who in April led police on a dangerous chase from Fort Payne into Menlo, Ga., on rural roads over Lookout Mountain, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Marcus Watson.

A one-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court charges DENNIS JOHN JOHNSON, 43, of Albertville, with being a convicted felon in possession of a Smith & Wesson .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol. The indictment cites prior felony convictions of second-degree assault in Marshall County Circuit Court in November 1997, unlawful possession of a controlled substance in Etowah County Circuit Court in June 2001, and third-degree robbery in Marshall County Circuit Court in April 2014.

“Felons with firearms will be charged with a federal crime, prosecuted in federal court, and, if convicted, do federal time in a federal prison where there is no sanctuary of parole,” Town said. “We are indebted to the brave officers who put themselves in harm’s way to end the car chase where this defendant endangered the lives of civilians and police officers.”

“ATF’s priority of reducing violent crime results in court actions such as this,” Watson said. “The use of Crime Gun Intelligence in working with our law enforcement partners is an effective resource to provide a safe environment for our communities.”

Johnson had the handgun with him when police arrested him on April 9 as he ran from a pickup truck he abandoned on Georgia Highway 48 in Chattooga County, Ga., according to a Fort Payne Police arrest report. Johnson jumped from the truck after fleeing police in Fort Payne and speeding away along U.S. Highway 11 to Hammondville. His flight took him onto Alabama Highway 117 and through Valley Head and Mentone before crossing the state line into Georgia, according to the arrest report.

Fort Payne officers had tried to pull over the pickup truck because the license plate was registered to a different vehicle, the police report said. In the ensuing chase, speeds topped 100 mph as Johnson ran vehicles off the narrow roads, swerved toward police vehicles and aimed his speeding truck at the Hammondville police chief, who was running across the road to deploy a stop strip. The first Fort Payne police vehicle in pursuit behind Johnson hit the stop strip and crashed, seriously injuring one Fort Payne officer, according to the police report.

The maximum penalty for a convicted felon in possession of a firearm is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

ATF investigated the case in conjunction with the Fort Payne Police Department, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and the Chattooga County, Ga., Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan S. Keim is prosecuting the case.