EVERETT — An Everett man didn’t want his roommates to know he planned to rob a store to pay his overdue rent, according to new charges filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.
So he left his cell phone speakers playing in his room, crawled out the window and walked about two blocks to the mini mart at 6901 Broadway, Michealob Johnson told police in an interview.
He waited outside for 20 minutes, armed with three knives and wearing a blue poncho and clear latex gloves. He went inside the store, picked up a bottle of water and set it on the counter near closing time on a Monday night, April 22. The new charges give much more detail than what police had released before.
High-quality security footage showed the store owner, Jae An, 58, asked if that was all he wanted.
“Yeah, just the water,” the killer replied on the audio and video recording.
“I saw him smile and my depression and the situation, my hatred at the situation I was in, and then his smile made me, in my head, it made me feel, think, how can anyone smile when someone else’s life is being so permanently (expletive) over at this moment,” Johnson reportedly told police in a recorded interview. “I got pissed and that’s when I went from trying to rob to just jamming the dagger into his throat.”
Johnson, 25, later clarified that, in that moment, he went from wanting the money to wanting to kill. It had been something he’d thought about often.
“Every day I wake up, I have this intense desire to just destroy or kill something,” he reportedly said. “… From when I’m awake to until I go to sleep, I have to constantly look, smile and greet each person every single day and hold back this something that makes me want to kill.”
Johnson is now charged with aggravated first-degree murder for the unprovoked killing, and first-degree attempted murder for slashing at a woman who walked in on the aftermath.
At a vigil that drew more than 100 people, An was remembered as a hard-working father, whose small business was the hub of a neighborhood.
“Taking the defendant’s own statement to law enforcement at face value, he murdered a completely innocent person simply for showing him kindness,” Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Robert Grant wrote in court papers.
Everett police interviewed Johnson for three hours. He thanked them for catching him, and said he’d accept any penalty without complaint, according to the charges.
He’d been planning a robbery for days, he reported.
At first Johnson claimed he blacked out during the attack, but later reported he recalled all of it, and he had a habit of mixing in lies with truth.
Security footage showed the attacker gave no warning and did not demand cash. He stabbed An a second time, when he fell to the ground.
The man in a blue poncho took a wallet from An’s pants. He could not open the registers. Johnson considered raiding the ATM, then burning down the building to destroy the evidence, according to the charges.
But a woman in a hoodie walked into the store on a cigarette run.
Johnson decided to “silence” her and slashed a knife at her throat, he told police. The blade hit her sweatshirt, leaving her without serious injuries.
The woman told police she thought to herself, “Not today.” She grabbed the blade of the knife hard, and broke it at the hilt. He held onto her, until she slipped out of her hoodie and escaped to a truck, driven by a man who had just dropped her off. The attacker chased her. The pair locked the doors and sped away.
Johnson realized he was caught, he told police. Once he got home, he told his roommates that he’d killed someone and waited for officers to arrest him, according to the charges. He pulled out about $40 in cash in the living room.
“This was his money,” he said.
He threw it on the floor.
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @snocaleb.