MILLIS, Mass. (AP) — A part-time police officer accused of concocting a story about a shootout with a gunman before his cruiser crashed into a tree and caught on fire will face charges, authorities confirmed Friday.
Bryan Johnson will be charged with misleading a criminal investigation, communicating false information to emergency services, malicious destruction of property and unlawful discharge of a firearm, Millis police Sgt. William Dwyer said.
Johnson, 24, had said a man in a pickup truck fired at his cruiser Wednesday afternoon, forcing him to crash into a tree. Johnson said his SUV caught on fire, and he climbed out of the vehicle and shot back at the gunman.
Dwyer said the only ballistics evidence recovered at the scene of the crash was from shots fired by the officer into his own cruiser. The possible motivations for the fabrication are not clear.
The hoax prompted a search by dozens of officers, a shelter-in-place order for residents, and a school lockdown.
A message left at a listing for a Bryan Johnson in Millis wasn't immediately returned Friday.
He is on paid administrative leave and will be fired, Dwyer said.
Johnson was promoted from dispatcher to part-time officer last year and was scheduled to start training as a full-time officer for the town of about 8,000 residents on the Charles River about 25 miles southwest of Boston.
Dwyer, who is filling in as interim chief, called Johnson a "good friend of mine and a good person."
"I thought he was an excellent dispatcher — well-spoken, physically fit, a great addition to our police department," Dwyer said. "So I know I speak for the entire department and the police community when I say we were shocked by what happened."