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Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Feb. 28, 2024

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Vancouver driver sentenced in 2021 road rage case

Man with no prior criminal history to serve 6 months

By , Columbian Local News Editor

A Vancouver man was sentenced Monday to six months in jail for shooting at a pickup during a road rage incident in April 2021 on northbound Interstate 205 near state Highway 14.

John Robert Johnston, 30, previously pleaded guilty to second-degree assault in Clark County Superior Court.

The prosecution recommended an eight-month jail sentence, but Judge David Gregerson said he’d give a break to Johnston, who had no prior criminal history. Johnston received credit for the two days he’s already served.

The prosecution said the victim, Oleksandr Savchenko, did not wish to be present for Monday’s hearing and didn’t want Johnston to serve a lengthy sentence. Defense attorney Therese Lavallee said Johnston was not the aggressor and noted the road rage incident was reported hours after it occurred.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Savchenko, then 27, called 911 to report the shooting, which occurred at about 9:45 a.m. April 10, 2021. He told the Washington State Patrol he was traveling north in his white pickup when a man shot at his right rear door; the bullet became lodged in the front passenger’s seat.

Savchenko said he had been in a road rage incident with a black car with Oregon license plates. Savchenko provided a description of the suspect, as well as the vehicle’s license plate number, the affidavit says.

Vancouver police later located the suspect vehicle at an apartment complex in the 12800 block of Southeast Seventh Street and detained three people believed to be associated with it, court records state.

Savchenko provided troopers with a still image captured from his pickup’s dash cam. Using the photo, police identified one of the detained people, Johnston, as the suspect; Savchenko also later identified Johnston as the road rage driver, the affidavit says.

Johnston told police he was driving from Portland to Vancouver to pick up a moving truck. He acknowledged there was a road rage incident and said he believed Savchenko pointed a silver pistol at him. He said he was afraid, so he grabbed his pistol and fired one round at the pickup, the affidavit states.