A 24-year-old Woodlawn man scheduled to appear in court for a domestic violence hearing yesterday was accused of beating his estranged girlfriend outside a Columbia school, then following her to Howard County General Hospital where he shot her brother, police said.
Officers were searching for Gregory Lamont Johnson of the 5900 block of Franklin Ave. late last night.
Police said last night they had been in brief telephone contact with Johnson twice yesterday and encouraged him to turn himself in. Howard County Police Lt. Richard Witte said he did not know who initiated the calls.
At about 10 a.m., about the same time Johnson was due to appear in District Court in Catonsville, he is accused of pulling up in front of the hospital, getting out of his gold Toyota Camry and firing one shot, hitting 25-year-old Jayson Myatt in the side, said Howard County police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn.
Myatt had been in the hospital with his sister, Tiffany, 22, who had arrived by ambulance with bruises and cuts not long after she accused Johnson of going to Clemens Crossing Elementary School - apparently upset about the hearing - and assaulting her in the parking lot, Llewellyn said.
With Tiffany Myatt about to be discharged, Jayson Myatt had walked outside the building, hospital officials said. He was standing at the curb when Johnson drove up and fired, police said.
After wounding Myatt, the bullet lodged in an orientation sign about 60 yards from the entrance to the emergency room, said John DeCarlis, a patient who was walking through the doors at the time.
For a few moments, he said, no one seemed moved to action. About a dozen people were in the waiting room, DeCarlis, 53, added.
"Nobody was thinking," he said. "Everyone was sort of sitting there in shock."
Police swarmed over the area of the hospital and sent officers and a helicopter to look for Johnson, who was last seen about 10:30 p.m. in the nearby Owen Brown Village area, police said.
With officers at the hospital and Jayson Myatt in doctors' care, the nearby Columbia Animal Hospital fielded an unusual call.
An unidentified male caller said he wanted to be transferred to "Tiffany's room" and seemed confused when receptionist Brenda Wade told him he had the wrong hospital.
"I didn't really put it together until I got off the phone with him," she said.
Jayson Myatt was hospitalized in stable condition, Llewellyn said. She would not say where Tiffany Myatt was staying last night.
Police believe yesterday's chain of events was triggered by the court hearing, scheduled one week after Tiffany Myatt filed a petition seeking a protective order against Johnson.
Johnson was upset and apparently mentioned the hearing when he came to see Myatt at Clemens Crossing, where she takes care of children before and after school, Llewellyn said. Johnson urged Myatt to come out to the parking lot about 8 a.m., police said.
"It is our belief that she went outside because she did not want any children to witness anything," said Llewellyn.
On May 31, Myatt had asked court officials to keep Johnson away from her, their 14-month-old son and her 3-year-old son from another relationship. He had threatened her, destroyed her clothes and knocked on her apartment door at all hours of the night, according to court documents.
Court papers also accuse Johnson of "prior violence" and "physical violence" two weeks earlier.
The court issued an order telling Johnson to stay away from Myatt's home and from her work at Clemens Crossing and set a protective order hearing for yesterday at 10 a.m.
Myatt works for Columbia Association, which runs the before- and after-school care at the school, school officials said.
Yesterday, court officials set a new hearing date for June 18.
It was not the first time Johnson had been accused of domestic violence. In March 1999, another girlfriend described what she said was a six-year abusive relationship when she filed for a protective order in District Court in Glen Burnie.
"He has shoved me into corners and kicked me in my back ... and punched me in my head," Shannon Plater of Pasadena wrote. "I want it to end for me and my child. I am very scared of him."
Yesterday, DeCarlis, the patient, criticized the hospital's response, saying unarmed security officers did not move people out of the waiting room or lock the doors quickly enough and seemed unprepared to deal with a crisis.
Hospital officials disputed that. Patients in curtained areas closest to the door were moved as were the people in the waiting area, they said.
"There was never any danger inside the emergency room, and security was stationed at the doors," said hospital spokeswoman Mary Patton.
Sun staff writers Laura Vozzella, Laura Barnhardt, Jamie Smith Hopkins, Tim Craig and Larry Carson and contributing writer Marian Morton contributed to this article.