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Man shot up car to appease East Washington police chief, lawyer says

| Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, 12:26 p.m.

A Washington man who pleaded guilty Thursday to federal firearms charges committed a drive-by shooting last year to appease a police chief without endangering anyone's life, the man's lawyer said.

Timothy D. Johnson isn't a bad guy but got into a jam because he was living with the ex-wife of his friend, then-East Washington Police Chief Donald Solomon, said Johnson's attorney, Lee Markovitz.

Solomon, 56, who is awaiting trial on his own federal charges, wanted to scare away a man who was living with the chief's ex-girlfriend, and he pressured Johnson to break into the house and put a gun to that man's head, Markovitz said.

Johnson shot up the car to appease Solomon, he said.

Johnson, 41, pleaded guilty to selling a firearm to a man he knew was a convicted felon and 10 counts of possessing and selling silencers and machine guns. He admitted to using one of the silencers to shoot up the car. He remains in federal custody pending sentencing, which U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon scheduled for Feb. 19.

Solomon faces federal charges of using his position to extort money. He agreed to provide protection for undercover agents he thought were drug dealers and agreed to buy them Tasers, prosecutors say. He was indicted in October 2011 and is free on bond.

He initially went home to his ex-wife, Kathy Solomon, but Bissoon allowed him to move when he told authorities she refused to feed him, court records show.

Assistant Federal Public Defender Marketa Sims, Solomon's lawyer, declined comment.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Picking said during a hearing that Johnson came under investigation because he was talking about making silencers in a Washington coffee shop.

Over the next year, the regional Joint Terrorism Task Force recorded Johnson bragging about the quality of his silencers and taped him demonstrating and selling the silencers and machine guns, Picking said.

He used one of the silencers he later sold for the April 2011 drive-by, she said.

“He sprayed a car in the driveway,” she said.

Markovitz said the bulk of the charges against Johnson are the result of his impatience in getting a gun license that would have allowed him to legally possess the weapons he was making in his basement workshop.

“He's a guy who's a gun enthusiast,” Markovitz said. “He had dreams of designing a better silencer. He thought he could patent it.”

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or bbowling@tribweb.com.

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