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A simple grab-and-run theft turns into a brutal homicide when the thief pulls out a gun

DAVID F. ASHTON - Officers guarded the bicycle that may have been the one stolen from the nearby pawn shop. Bystanders were providing CPR, and trying to staunch the bleeding of a man with at least one gunshot wound, in the parking lot of a Papa Murphy's Take 'N' Bake Pizza shop at 3335 S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses, just before 3 p.m., on Monday afternoon, March 30.

East Precinct officers were dispatched to the area – but medical help proved to be too late. The victim, identified as 31 year-old Benjamin Taylor Johnson, died at the scene.

DMV PHOTO - Dead, from a bandits gunshots: 31-year-old Benjamin Taylor Johnson.It was not long before 35 units, including PPB's Mobile Command Center, had arrived, and the members of the Police Bureau's Forensic Evidence Division, along with homicide detectives, began the investigation.

According to witnesses, the incident had actually started half a block north, at USA Pawn & Jewelry, 8001 S.E. Powell Boulevard – at the north end of the "Winco"-anchored shopping center.

"I was shopping in the center looking for a notebook, and also went into the pawn store to look around," said witness "Antonio".

MCDC BOOKING PHOTO - Arrested and indicted in the murder and attempted robbery was 22-year-old Joseph David Schneider. A man came into the pawn shop, and grabbed a high-end bicycle, and headed out the door, Antonio told THE BEE. "An employee – I think he was the pawn shop manager – ran after the thief, shouting for him to stop."

Police officers cordoned off the area and a PPB Forensic Evidence Division photographer documented a bicycle that appeared to have been dropped by the thief just outside the store.

Johnson, the store employee, continued after the thief, and nearly caught up with him in the parking lot of Papa Murphy's store, about a half-block south of the pawn shop.

"The 'bad guy' took out a 9mm gun and shot the pawn store man – 'bam, bam, bam' – he dropped to the pavement, and the guy with the gun took off running [west] toward the back of the parking lot," Antonio told us.

"It doesn't make sense for someone to shoot another because of a bike," Antonio mused. "And again, not faulting anyone, but I don't know how smart it was for the pawn shop guy to go chasing after the thief, for a bike."

The Oregon State Medical Examiner's office determined the cause of death for Johnson was homicide, and the manner was gunshot wounds.

Four days later, on Thursday, April 2, the Portland Police Bureau's Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT) arrested a suspect in connection with this case – 22-year-old Joseph David Schneider.

Schneider was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) on one count of Murder in the First Degree, and one count of Robbery in the First Degree. At his arraignment, Schneider learned he'd face four Class A Felony charges, including two Murder in the First Degree and two Robbery in the First Degree charges. He was also initially charged with Unlawful Possession of a Firearm and Possession of Methamphetamine.

Based on the results of a Multnomah County Grand Jury proceeding on April 13, Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill announced the filing of a seven-count indictment against Schneider for Johnson's murder, adding additional two Murder in the First Degree charges (now totaling four), and including the two Robbery in the First Degree and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm charges in the indictment. Apparently, the drug charge was dropped.

According to court documents, the indictment alleges that Schneider committed a robbery – and that in the course of and in the furtherance of committing that crime, he unlawfully and intentionally killed Mr. Johnson using a firearm.

And, in addition to the murder, robbery and weapon charges, Schneider has two County "Hold" orders, with a combined bail amount of $862,500. He remains held in MCDC without bail, for the seven counts on which he is indicted.


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