The murder of a Geismar woman who was allegedly beat to death with a baseball bat by her estranged husband has prompted a Baton Rouge firearm shop to offer women with restraining orders against abusers free concealed-carry training.
Precision Firearms owner Wade Duty announced the free class, which women must prove ownership of a protective order to attend, days after Geismar resident David Johnson, 38, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder following the death of his estranged wife.
The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office said 45-year-old Monica Johnson was found dead around 11 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 9) in her backyard after her estranged husband allegedly broke into her home, armed himself with a bat and bludgeoned her to death.
Officials say David Johnson also beat Monica Johnson’s eldest son and broke his arm when he tried to help his mother.
The couple had a history of domestic violence, officials say, and this past July, Monica Johnson took out a restraining order against David Johnson, which was still active at the time of her murder.
Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office records reportedly show David Johnson was arrested on Dec. 31, 2014 on charges of domestic abuse strangulation.
In addition to the first-degree murder charge for Sunday’s crime, David Johnson was charged with aggravated burglary with a weapon and violation of protection orders.
Tuesday (Aug. 11) Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley said though he encourages those in such situations to work through the legal system, it can only go so far. He advised women to arm themselves if they’re in similar situations.
“Ladies, learn how to safely handle a weapon, learn how to safely store a weapon, and when you’re in a situation like this shoot him in your back yard before he gets in your house,” Wiley said. “Drop him.”
“The clarity of his comments were motivational,” Duty, the owner of the shop, who’s also an NRA-trained instructor and attorney said. “If you find yourself in this situation, you need to have some options.”
Duty says this crime was the tipping point that prompted him to offer the class free of charge. However, a similar case in Baton Rouge that happened three years ago made him think about what he could do to help women in such situations, before Monica Johnson’s death happened on Sunday.
“I thought to myself, ‘What can we do to help these people in this situation?'” Duty asked. “One thing we can do is provide training. And that’s what we’re good at.”
Precision Firearms & Indoor Range’s firearm training course would normally cost $125. Duty says the class, which he is teaching, will cost the business about $500 to put on for three days for the 14 students. That includes guns for the women to use in class–not to be taken home after–and ammunition.
He’s not yet decided if he’ll offer this class to women with restraining orders free of charge regularly. But insists, “It’s not about the money. I hope that the people who need this training are able to take advantage of it,” Duty said.
The class churns about 500 students annually, Duty says. That’s $62,500 in revenues on top of regular gun, ammunition and accessories sales.
The business will offer the free firearm training courses to women with restraining orders against abusers Aug. 25, 26 and 27 from 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Duty said the majority of the spaces were taken up by 4 p.m. Wednesday (Aug. 12).
Women must bring proof of a restraining order to attend the class. It’s mandatory for students to attend all sessions to receive the full required nine hours of training they need to apply for a concealed-carry card.
Not everyone who signs up for Duty’s class follows through with obtaining a concealed-carry certification, he says. However the state requires that concealed-carry applicants are:
- At least 21 years old
- A Louisiana resident
- Never had a felony
- Submit to background check which includes criminal and mental health history
- Submit fingerprints
- Not otherwise disqualified
- Obtain the minimum of nine hours of instruction
For more information, the address and phone number to register, visit the Precision Firearms & Indoor Range Facebook page.
And if victims need information on domestic violence, a few local resources are:
- Iris Domestic Violence Center, http://www.stopdv.org, (225) 389-3001 or 1 (800) 541-9706
- STAR Center, http://www.brstar.org, (225) 383-RAPE
- Life Family Outreach, (225) 772-2441