Soldier accused of fatally shooting Arlington gym owner
A Walgreens employee who was shot in the leg by her abusive husband said she is getting blamed on social media for the death of a Good Samaritan who tried to intervene in the shooting.
Quinisha Johnson, 22, has apologized several times on local TV stations since her husband, who was an active-duty soldier, drove 2 1/2 hours from Fort Hood to Arlington to confront her about a Facebook photo and ended up killing an Arlington CrossFit coach.
Pvt. Ricci Chambles Bradden, 22, shot Johnson in the right leg and then fatally shot Anthony “T.J.” Antell, 35, of Arlington, who had tried to stop him from fleeing the Walgreens parking lot at 5600 New York Ave.
Though Johnson said Bradden had choked her to the point of not breathing in the past, she never called the police or sought shelter. Because she kept quiet about the abuse, many are blaming the shooting of Antell on her.
“They said it was my fault that their friend died,” Johnson said of two different messages from people claiming to be Antell’s friends.
“I didn’t pull the trigger,” Johnson said. “They said,‘I hope whatever you did was worth it.’ ”
If you are being abused and in immediate danger call 911. For emergency shelter call SafeHaven’s 24-hour crisis hotline at 1-877-701-7233
Johnson said she had previously thought about leaving Bradden but was afraid he would come after her.
Victim advocates say Johnson was in a precarious situation.
“The most common thing people say is, ‘Girl, you just need to leave,’ ” said Michelle Morgan, a director at One Safe Place, a one-stop service provider in Fort Worth for domestic abuse victims. “But the most deadliest time is when you leave — statistics prove that.”
Instead of simply telling victims to leave, concerned parties need to educate themselves on the high-risk factors and talk to professionals who can help put safety measures in place, Morgan said.
“For Quinisha, you are seven times more likely to be killed by an intimate partner when strangulation enters the situation,” Morgan said. “Within the past few years we’ve begun to understand the correlation. It makes sense. It just takes a couple of minutes for you to be killed.”
If One Safe Place had been notified about Johnson’s situation, she would have been put in an “extreme danger category,” Morgan said.
At SafeHaven of Tarrant County, which operates shelters in Arlington and Fort Worth, staff members use a danger assessment instrument to determine the level of threat.
Choking is always a tell-tale sign, said Kathryn Jacob, SafeHaven CEO.
“Perhaps the most important question is, ‘Does he ever try to choke you?’ ” Jacob said.
On the evening of May 1, the night before the shooting, Johnson posted a black and white photo of herself on Facebook with the caption, “Life waits for no one, when your time comes it’s the end of your journey, so never get off the ride until it’s your turn.”
She said she soon dozed off.
When she awoke that morning she found an angry text message from Bradden accusing her of being a liar, but he soon called and apologized, she said.
Johnson thought the argument was behind them, and she drove from her Dallas home to work at the Walgreens in south Arlington, where she is a beauty adviser in the store’s cosmetics section. She said she was taken aback when shortly before noon Bradden walked into the store and confronted her.
The two walked outside, where an argument ensued. He fired his gun, hitting her in the leg.
They said it was my fault that their friend died.
Quinisha Johnson, abuse victim
Johnson said she didn’t know she had been shot at first. All she felt was a “powerful vibration” ring through her right leg — prompting her to run back into the store and scream for help.
Once inside, her twisted right ankle and shattered shin gave out, and she fell to the floor. Blood pooled around her.
Antell, a former Marine, chef and Arlington CrossFit coach, grabbed his own gun and tried to perform a citizen’s arrest after witnessing the shooting.
Bradden later told his Army superiors that Antell told him to “drop the gun.” Instead, Bradden said he “slapped” the gun out of Antell’s hand and shot him.
Johnson said she prays for Antell’s wife, who witnessed the fatal shooting, and the rest of his family.
“I know they need time, but I pray they heal,” Johnson said. “And if they blame me, I pray for forgiveness.”
Planning for a divorce
Johnson is now staying at her mother’s house in Dallas. She wears a big plastic boot and has a metal rod with screws inside her right leg. She said the rod will stay there for the next year, holding her shin in place while it heals from the blast of a hollow-point bullet.
Johnson had planned on moving into an apartment with her husband at Fort Hood, where he was assigned to the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade.
Now she is planning their divorce.
Johnson met Bradden her freshman year at Dunbar High School in Fort Worth. The two dated but broke up during her sophomore year when she transferred to South Oak Cliff High School in Dallas. They reunited after graduating in 2012, and then dated on and off.
Their breakups never lasted longer than three months, she said.
Johnson said Bradden had “emotional issues” he was dealing with, and was often controlling.
Perhaps the most important question is, ‘Does he ever try to choke you?
Kathryn Jacob, SafeHaven CEO
She said he once shot at her mother’s house while she sat inside. She said that was the only time she called police, but they didn’t have enough evidence to arrest him.
“When you love someone you try to help them get better because you don’t want anything to happen to them,” Johnson said. “We hold on to the person we fell in love with.”
Bradden joined the Army on July 21, 2015, and Johnson said his temperament improved.
They were married March 18, she said.
A ‘big fight’ in April
Just a month later, about two weeks before the shooting, the two had a “big fight” after she went out with friends and didn’t come home when he told her to.
The next day her pit bull, miniature Chihuahua and miniature Yorkie were gone. Johnson said Bradden told her he let them out on the side of the road “somewhere.”
Johnson said she never called the police because she was afraid of what she’d have to deal with once he got out of jail.
Besides the hateful messages she has received on social media, Johnson said other people — often strangers — tell her to keep her head up. Johnson said Arlington police and the Army have victims assistance coordinators who consistently check on her.
She has not talked to Bradden since he turned himself in the day of the shooting.
He remains in the Tarrant County Jail, charged with murder and aggravated assault of a family member with a weapon.
Eventually she will have to face him in court.
This report contains information from the Star-Telegram archives.