Attorney: ‘Don't rush to judgment' in Tucker auto shop death
The defense attorney for the shooting suspect of a Tucker auto shop owner warned Wednesday night against prematurely condemning his client.
"I want to caution everyone not to rush to judgment," said Atlanta attorney Nkosi J. Bey, who is representing Troy Johnson, 41.
Johnson is charged with murder in the Monday afternoon killing of George Tyrones.
"Preliminary investigation shows there are a lot of things that will be a surprise to everyone," Bey said following Johnson's first appearance before DeKalb Magistrate Judge Abbi Taylor.
Johnson's co-defendant, Abel Johnson (no relation), waived his first appearance hearing Wednesday. Both will appear again in court Nov. 3. They remained jailed on murder charges.
Several of the victims friends and loved ones were in the courthouse Wednesday night as Johnson faced the judge. All declined comment.
Police say Johnson was so unhappy with the work the European Auto Care Center did on his car that he shot the owner.
Johnson, 41, and Tyrones, 46, have been feuding for months, employees said.
Friday was the first time police got involved.
Tyrones called officers after Johnson became hostile about his bill, said Beth Pizzati, an administrative assistant at Tyrones’ auto shop.
Johnson showed up Friday to pay his $800 outstanding bill. He dropped a suitcase full of what he said was $800 worth of coins on the counter, snatched his keys and drove off in his repaired car, according to a police report.
Tyrones never counted the change to see if it added up to $800, he told police.
On Monday, Johnson returned to the LaVista Road auto shop. This time, he had a gun and his friend, 30-year-old Abel Johnson, according to police reports.
Troy Johnson walked into the business and confronted Tyrones. He then charged Tyrones and shot him in the head, employees told police.
Johnson then started to argue with another auto shop worker, the report states. The employee told police he heard a second gunshot as he ran away from the shooter.
Johnson then climbed back into his Ford F-150 pickup truck, where Abel Johnson had waited during the shoot, the report states. The two men drove off.
When officers arrived, they found Tyrones lying in the garage. He was dead at the scene, police said.
“He already had his vehicle. There was a dispute over the bill, but he had his vehicle and came back,” Pizzati said. “Apparently, it was all planned out because he had a gun and other people with him.”
On Monday afternoon, police got a call from someone in the area reporting suspicious activity by a man who matched the description of the shooter, DeKalb County Police spokesman Officer Jason Gagnon said. The caller gave officers a description of the pickup truck.
Officers searched the area and found the truck driving on I-285. Police stopped the car and detained two men, Gagnon said.
The two Johnsons are both charged with murder and being held without bond in the DeKalb County jail.
On Tuesday, European Auto was closed.
"The entire staff is just shocked and devastated at what transpired," said Michael Veraart, who worked for Tyrones. "Right now, our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and kids. He was a great guy, very, very nice."
Tyrones grew up helping his father at the family auto body shop, Deutschland Automotive on LaVista, Pizzati said.
Tyrones and his brother inherited the business after his father’s death. Tyrones changed the name to European Auto and opened a second business, Old World Motorcars in Tucker.
He specialized in work on Ferraris, BMWs, Jaguars, Aston Martins, Mercedeses and Porsches.
Tyrones also helped run European Auto Vault and All Wheels Auto Storage, which his wife Andrea owns. The businesses specialize in storing high-end cars.
“He wanted to treat his customers fairly and his employees fairly and still make a profit to take care of his family,” Pizzati said. “He had two small little girls under the age of 6. Besides cars, they were his life.”
Click to view image: 'Troy Johnson'
Click to view image: 'Abel Johnson'