Gary Johnson Charged in Rhett Gelb’s death

A judge ordered Gary Johnson held Friday on suspicion of felony murder and distribution of a controlled substance in connection with the robbery and murder of Rhett Gelb in May 2013.

Gelb was found next to a Cadillac Escalade at the intersection of New Hampshire Avenue and Hamilton Street Northwest. He died later from his injuries.

Johnson, 51, is the third person arrested in the case. Roger St. John and Lawrence Wilkerson were arrested on suspicion of felony murder while armed in Gelb’s death. Police believe Johnson to be a participant in Gelb’s murder.

According to a witness, it and another individual accompanied Gelb to Washington, D.C., from Colonial Beach to purchase drugs, documents say. The witness told police that Gelb was a drug dealer and at times used middlemen to purchase drugs. It said Gelb used a man named “Gary,” court documents state.

The witness said it overheard Gelb speaking to Johnson on the phone planning to meet to complete the transaction. According to the witness, when they arrived at the agreed location, Gelb told the person, in a phone conversation, “I’m here,” charging documents say. While they waited, it saw Johnson come from behind the truck and enter the vehicle through the passenger side rear behind Gelb.

Johnson and Gelb discussed money and drugs and Johnson told Gelb that an individual driving a silver car would be delivering the drugs, according to the witness. Documents say Gelb then counted out five-hundred dollars to Johnson and handed him the money.

Shortly after, a silver Lincoln arrived and parked on Hamilton Street Northwest in front of Gelb’s Cadillac. Though the Lincoln’s windows were tinted, a witness saw the driver, who later was identified as Roger St. John, according to court documents. It said Wilkerson exited the front passenger side of the vehicle and entered Gelb’s truck on Johnson’s side behind Gelb, documents state. St. John was arrested in December 2013.

After Wilkerson got into the backseat of the truck, he aimed a gun at Gelb and demanded money. When Gelb didn’t respond, Wilkerson pulled Gelb by the hair asking: “Where is the money?”

You think this is a game?” Wilkerson asked, according to documents.

Another witness said Johnson immediately handed the money he had received from Gelb to Wilkerson and put his hands in the air.

Gelb then said, “F— this,” and got out of the truck. Once Gelb opened the door, Wilkerson fired the gun once, shooting Gelb in the head. Witnesses saw Wilkerson run towards Gelb and check his pockets before fleeing in the Silver Lincoln, documents say. Johnson left the area on foot.

Police were able to identify Johnson through his Facebook page provided by a witness, documents state. On Nov. 11, 2013, Johnson was arrested on unrelated charges and agreed to speak with police. Johnson admitted to setting up a drug deal with Gelb and Wilkerson, but he denied any involvement in setting Gelb up to be robbed and killed, charging documents say.

Johnson told police he knew the driver of the Lincoln, but denied speaking with him on the day of the shooting. According to call records, there were calls between Johnson and St. John before and after Gelb’s death, court documents state. Johnson failed to identify anyone in a photo array containing Wilkerson, claiming they all looked older than the shooter.

Johnson is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on December 19 at 10:30 a.m. before Judge John Ramsey Johnson.

Charging documents are embedded below:

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