Court date moved

Trial reset for man accused of school intrusion

By Joe Beck

The jury trial for a man charged with disorderly conduct after he allegedly appeared inside an elementary school with a board bearing the words “high powered rifle” has been rescheduled.

Special prosecutor Ross P. Spicer confirmed last week that the trial of Christopher Gerrit Johnson, 33, of 333 Junction Road, Strasburg, has been moved from 2:30 p.m. July 12 to 9 a.m. Aug. 16 in Shenandoah County General District Court.

Spicer said Judge Amy Tisinger had a scheduling conflict that led her to set a new trial date.

The first day of classes for Shenandoah County Public Schools is scheduled for Sept. 3. New teachers are scheduled to begin reporting Aug. 19.

Johnson’s attorney, David Silek, who practices in Front Royal and Manassas, told Tisinger at an earlier hearing that he plans to call “a large number of witnesses” at the trial, including teachers, administrators and students at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Strasburg.

Johnson was arrested at the school after administrators called the Sheriff’s Office to report he had entered the building carrying a 2-by-4 board with the wording “high powered rifle.”

Johnson has said his actions were intended to call attention to school safety problems a few days after the massacre of more than 20 students and educators at an elementary school in Connecticut, also named Sandy Hook. Silek contends his client broke no laws with his actions at the school.

Spicer was appointed special prosecutor after Shenandoah County Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wiseley filed a motion asking that she and her assistants be replaced in prosecuting Johnson. Wiseley said her mother is a teacher at Sandy Hook and her 6-year-old daughter attends school there.

Spicer, who is Commonwealth’s Attorney in Frederick County, had no additional comments on the case.

“I haven’t really jumped into it yet, so I wouldn’t be prepared to talk about it, even if I could do so,” Spicer said.”

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com