Jevonne Malachi Crawford told Dakota Johnston “you know why we’re here” moments before he pulled out a handgun and fatally shot him in the head inside a Donora home last month, according to testimony at his preliminary hearing Friday on homicide and other charges.
Crawford then turned the gun on Johnston’s girlfriend, Tionya Gaston, shooting her four times, although she was able to escape the house and get help, she testified at the hearing.
Gaston testified she and Johnston were in their bedroom watching television late while her 6-year-old son was sleeping downstairs on a couch when she heard a knock at the door of their home at 333 Third St. in Donora late May 28.
When she answered, she found Crawford and two other men standing at the door, along with a woman inside a car parked outside the house. She knew the men, so she let them inside and they walked upstairs with her to see Johnston, she said.
“They were already drunk, acting like they wanted to hang out,” Gaston testified. “But after five minutes, it got weird.”
Crawford, who had a handgun in his pocket, began making unspecified accusations against Johnston, insinuating that he knew the reason they had come to the house, she said.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Gaston recalled Johnston saying. “What are you going to do?”
At that moment, Crawford pulled out the handgun and shot Johnston in the head from a few feet away, Gaston testified.
Gaston said she turned and saw the barrel of Crawford’s gun pointed in her face. Gaston was then shot four times, with bullets striking her in the left ear, left shoulder, right arm and left hand as she crouched down to protect herself. Gaston had bandages covering her bullet wounds as she testified from the stand, and said she still has a bullet fragment in her jaw.
The two men with Crawford ran from the house, and at least one of them left in the car parked outside, Gaston said. But Crawford remained upstairs, picking up shell casings and pouring cleaning solution on Johnston and Gaston, who was lying on the floor in the fetal position with a hooded sweatshirt over her. Gaston heard Johnston seemingly come back to consciousness, she said, but Crawford “choked him out” a few seconds later.
Gaston then ran from the house and found customers still inside the nearby Fraternal Order of Eagles, where she asked them to call 911.
“We needed help,” she said.
Crawford was later arrested after a brief foot chase that ended in the woods near the house, state police Trooper Robert Schmid testified. He was found with a .45-caliber handgun and 148 stamp bags of suspected heroin, Schmid said.
While being held in the back of a police cruiser, Crawford allegedly admitted to killing Johnston, according to a body camera video worn by a Charleroi police officer that was played during Friday’s hearing.
“I know I killed someone,” Crawford can be heard saying on the video. “I’m going to spend the rest of my life in jail.”
Johnston, 26, was taken to Mon Valley Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Washington County Coroner Timothy Warco testified Johnston was shot two times, once in the forehead and the other in the left temple.
While Crawford originally faced felony charges of homicide and attempted homicide, First Assistant District Attorney Jason Walsh added several new counts in the case Friday. Crawford, 22, of 4 Mellon Ave., Donora, now faces additional charges of firearm not to be carried, theft, simple drug possession, drug possession with attempt to deliver, evidence tampering and aggravated assault.
After hearing testimony for nearly an hour, District Judge Mark Wilson ordered Crawford to stand trial on all charges. Crawford appeared for his preliminary hearing by video conferencing at Washington County jail, where he’s been held without bond since his arrest the morning after the shooting.