by LAURA HAYES
Ricky Darnell Waiters, 49, of Winona, pled not guilty on Friday to the murder of local musician Robert “Bob” Johnson in a drive-by shooting last July.
Officers received a report of a drive-by shooting outside EB’s bar on West Fifth Street in the early hours of July 27. One witness alleged that the shooter drove into the parking lot, shined his headlights at a group of people outside the bar and almost drove onto an area used to roast chicken. A witness reportedly told the shooter that he couldn’t park there. The suspect allegedly backed out, drove onto the street and opened fire.
“He drove so close to us, like he was making sure he knew who he was looking at,” one witness said. “After the shots rang out, my friend tackled me and dragged me inside because he realized the severity of the situation. Then I ran in and yelled at the bartender to throw me dry towels.”
The bullets hit two people – Johnson and Sean Patrick O’Brien, 27, of Winona. Johnson suffered a gunshot wound to the chest, and O’Brien was struck in the legs. According to the criminal complaint, the suspect allegedly yelled something about “angels” or an “angel.” Gathering descriptions of the vehicle and the suspect, officers found records indicating Waiters drove that type of vehicle and matched the physical description. When officers went to Waiter’s apartment, they allegedly saw spent shell casings and a handgun holster through the car’s window.
Waiters is currently being held on nine charges: two counts of murder in the first degree, murder in the second degree, murder in the second degree — not premeditated, murder in the second degree by drive-by shooting, assault in the first degree causing great bodily harm, assault in the second degree, drive-by shooting, and carrying a pistol without a permit.
Waiter’s defense attorney Michael Kuehn told the court on Friday that they would not be challenging the evidence seized at the time of the arrest at that point and Waiters entered a not guilty plea. Kuehn said that the defense was still working with prosecutors on some evidence — specifically the 911 call and toxicology reports.
The case was scheduled for a three-week jury trial with the pre-trial proceedings starting in late July.