This article was originally published on GoErie.com by Tim Hahn on September 17, 2018.
The Erie County District Attorney’s Office highlighted two shootings outside a west Erie tavern over the past two years in successfully pushing for the place to be shuttered temporarily as a nuisance establishment over the summer.
The criminal cases against two men accused of firing the gunshots in those incidents advanced on Monday as county officials prepare for a mid-October hearing to consider making the injunction permanent.
Authorities cited several shootings in or near the former 901 Sports Bar & Grill, previously known as the Ultra View Lounge, when they petitioned Erie County Court in late July to shut down a building containing the tavern and a hotel at 901 W. Fourth St. Those shootings included a fatal shooting that occurred inside the tavern in April 2017 and a July 29 shooting outside the building that wounded two females.
Another shooting happened on Oct. 28, when Erie police charge that 28-year-old Lawrence N. Johnson fired multiple gunshots that seriously injured a 23-year-old man and a 30-year-old man, both from Detroit.
Johnson pleaded no contest before Erie County Judge John Garhart on Monday afternoon to a first-degree felony count of aggravated assault that was amended from a first-degree felony count of attempted homicide and consolidated the facts of a second charge into the count to reflect the two victims.
Garhart set Johnson’s sentencing for Nov. 14. Assistant District Attorney Grant Miller told Johnson that he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine on the charge.
Erie police charged that Johnson was the person who fired gunshots at the victims in the 800 block of West Fourth Street after the three had visited the former Ultra View Lounge on the early morning of Oct. 28. The men who were shot, whose names were not released by police, were seriously injured in the shooting and one of the victims remains paralyzed, according to investigators.
Detectives said surveillance video from security cameras at the now-closed tavern captured the majority of the shooting, and that they were able to identify Johnson as the shooter based on a sweatshirt with a unique pattern that he was wearing, and information from witnesses.
Johnson was charged in the shooting on Nov. 4 and was apprehended in Lakewood, Ohio, four days later. He was brought back to Erie to face the charges in January.