Class Gift Catches Criminal on Tape - - Jackson, MS

Vicksburg 08/13/05

Class Gift Catches Criminal on Tape

By Gene Adams

A Vicksburg man charged with attacking two women is behind bars after one attack is caught on camera. Edward Johnson was arrested July 29th after police saw the tape. The video that caught the attack comes from an unlikely source.

The video that caught the crime on tape did not come from a business or a home video camera. The source is St. Aloysius High School and the gift the members of the senior class of 2005 gave to their alma mater.

Vicksburg Catholic School owes its new prayer garden to the generosity of the senior class of 2005. But this year the students also went hi-tech, donating thousand of dollars for a digital surveillance system.

This school year students, visitors and passers by alike anywhere on campus are recorded on tape, 24 hours a day. The system records the video at a secure location away from the cameras and video monitor.

"About 3 years ago there were some break ins [to vehicles in the parking lot] and so that's what they thought they were doing, securing their vehicles. They did not have a clue that 3 days after it was installed that it would do what it did," said Principal Michele Townsend.

What the system did was catch a criminal in the act on July 29.

Police say Edward Johnson, armed with a knife, attacked a woman on Grove street. The cameras caught it all.

"As you see in one of the films that comes up, he was walking up that particular street," said Townsend of the DVD police are holding as evidence, "when the cops were here they looked, they knew who he was and they were ready to go."

Police arrested Johnson, who lashed out at WLBT's camera and damaged the lens.

Johnson is being held without bond on two counts of assault and attempted rape.

Johnson has a long criminal history. He is a convicted felon who served time in jail for robbery, burglary, and 3 counts of aggravated assault for slashing three women with a knife in 1994.

Police say Johnson attacked another woman on Farmer street the night before he was caught on camera.

The evidence that put him behind bars is thanks in large part to the gift of the senior class of 2005 at St. Aloysius High School

"The class of 2005 was remarkable. They were dear to our hearts," said Townsend.

Now the class is dear to the river city, for getting a prime suspect off the streets.

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