The Massachusetts cop who fabricated a story about being ambushed by a man who opened fire on him as he was driving his patrol car, causing him to crash into a tree where the car engulfed in flames, was found dead in his home early Thanksgiving morning.
Bryan Johnson, 24, was found dead by a roommate. Police say it was not a homicide but provided no other details.
The former Millis police officer was facing several criminal charges stemming for the September 2 fabricated report as well as new charges that he had called in a bomb threat to a local middle school that morning.
Police said they were called to the home by another resident of the house who found Johnson unresponsive at around 3 a.m. They said no signs of foul play were found at the scene and the death is not being investigated as a homicide.
Authorities said an autopsy would be performed.
A grand jury had indicted Johnson on Nov. 19 on a charge of willful communication of a bomb threat to a school, making a false police report, malicious destruction of property and unlawful discharge of a firearm. He had pleaded not guilty in district court and was free on bail.
His Superior Court arraignment had not yet been scheduled, and the district attorney’s office said that in light of his death, it no longer would pursue the case.
Johnson had said a man in a pickup fired at his cruiser on Sept. 2. He said he returned fire, crashed into a tree and his SUV caught fire. His claims prompted a search by dozens of officers, a shelter-in-place order for residents and a school lockdown.
An investigation determined his account was a hoax and that Johnson had used his own gun to shoot at his vehicle. He later told investigators he blacked out.
The incident took place one day after Illinois police officer Joe Gliniewicz was found dead outside his car, sparking a manhunt in that area.
But the Gliniewicz ambush turned out to be a hoax as well. The Fox Lake lieutenant had actually committed suicide because he was about to be exposed as a criminal who embezzled tens of thousands of dollars from the department’s Explorer program.
At this point, it is not clear why Johnson would have fabricated an ambush on himself nor why would he have called in a bomb threat to the school.