Neighbors React To Suspected Belvidere Gunman Arrested in Iowa

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A Belvidere man is in police custody after he allegedly opened fire on an Iowa interstate near the Atalissa last Thursday.

The incident ended in a police standoff. According to investigators, 60-year old Charles Johnston, opened fire from his car.

“For him to do something like this is, like I said before, shocking,” said neighbor Tony Osgood.

Johnston’s neighbors are shocked. Many who knew Johnston are in disbelief after finding out about his alleged involvement in the incident. Johnston faces attempted murder charges after police say he fired rounds at motorists near a rest stop. Also, he’s accused of exchanging gunfire with troopers before surrendering.

“What made him go to that extreme is unreal,” said Osgood. “I just can’t really believe it.”

Johnston lives in a home on Sullivan Drive in Belvidere. His neighbors describe him as a friendly man who kept to himself and say they’re surprised that he would be involved in any crime.

“He was a pretty quiet guy,” added Osgood. “We didn’t hear much of him. He’d just go take off on his motorcycle.”

“I cannot believe that guy would do anything like that,” said neighbor Brenda Whitaker. “[He’s] so quiet, but he must’ve snapped.”

Johnston had been employed at Harper College in Palatine since 1996, where he was a psychology professor. Harper College sent us a statement.  It reads in part:

“…Professor Johnston is absent without approved leave. Following his arrest, he has been barred from campus…”

Whitaker says she had noticed one of the family cars hadn’t been moved in days and had a feeling something was off. “We’re all in shock. I just can’t believe something like that would happen. [I] wondered because the car was covered in snow.”

Osgood adds he never imagined anyone in his neighborhood would be facing such charges. “We’ll be talking about it for quite some time probably. [It’s] still kind of just setting in.”

No one was injured in the shooting. Johnston remains in custody at the jail in Cedar County, Iowa.

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