LAFAYETTE, LA (NBC33) — A Lafayette-based rapper is locked up today for terrorism. This is the first time this charge has been issued in Lafayette Parish since the law was enacted back in 2002.
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed to NBC33 News that Eric D. Johnson, aka Vicious, was arrested on Friday, July 20 and charged for violating the terrorism statue. The charge stems from an incident that happened on Friday, May 18 that resulted in the death of Ray Ryan, 43.
“It’s not a very common charge,” Cpt. Kip Judice, Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, explained. “The charge carries with it a minimum of 5 years and max of life in prison. Because there was a loss of life in this case, the sentence would fall towards the greater amount of time.”
Violation of the terrorism statute includes any person who is, “in the commission of an aggravated criminal damage to property with the intention to intimidate or coerce the civilian population.”
Ryan was found dead from a gunshot wound on the 200 block of Marigny Circle. Witnesses told police that a group had gathered in the street and there was a confrontation with a separate group of individuals. At some point shots were fired.
Although not part of the confrontation, Ryan was struck by a stray bullet and died on the scene. He lived in a home located next door to the intended target. Witnesses said he was outside of his home because of the commotion being caused by the confrontation.
“Although Ray was not the intended victim, it is because of the intention that was behind the act that the terrorism charges apply,” Cpt. Judice, noted.
Detectives went door-to-door in the neighborhood seeking information. Johnson, who lived in an apartment building across the street from the incident, was one of the individuals questioned due to information provided by witnesses.
“His name came up and we went to find him. He wasn’t too cooperative,” a detective with the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office told NBC33 News back in May.
While at Johnson’s home, investigators saw marijuana inside home and a search was then conducted. Johnson was arrested that evening and charged with Possession with the Intent to Distribute Schedule I substance. His bond was set at $5,000.
After a continued investigation, deputies obtained enough evidence to arrest Johnson, as well as three other individuals believed to be involved with the incident. They have not released the names of those individuals, nor revealed whether they believe Johnson to be the shooter, but plan to do so at 1:30 in an official press conference.
Johnson, originally from Lake Charles, is a rapper known for trying to encourage young men away from the “thug lifestyle,” as depicted in the lyrics of such songs as “Get Buck.” In an online biography Johnson says about his music, “I have grown a lot as a man, a rapper, and as a citizen, and I want my music to reflect that growth.”