Men charged in fatal shooting near New Athens

Michael W. Johnson (left) and Martin J. Morrison (right) were charged in connection with a June 2 triple shooting near New Athens.

Two men have been charged in connection with a June 2 triple shooting near New Athens that resulted in one dead. 

Charged with first degree murder in the case are Michael W. Johnson, 43, of East Carondelet, and Martin J. Morrison, 43, of Cahokia Heights. 

Johnson was also charged with two counts of aggravated battery with a firearm. His bond was set at $2 million and he was apprehended by the U.S. Marshals on Thursday in Sunset Hills, Mo.

Morrison was also charged with residential burglary, and his bond was set at $1 million. Morrison also faces a methamphetamine possession charge. He was taken into custody Tuesday and remains at the St. Clair County Jail.

Shortly before 11:30 a.m. June 2, St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department deputies were dispatched to the 9300 Block of Golden Rule Mine Road in rural New Athens for a report of subjects shot. 

One male, 25-year-old Austin M. Evans-Blakey of Lenzburg, was found deceased and the other two – ages 50 and 47 – were wounded, police said. One had critical injuries and was airlifted by medical helicopter to a hospital in St. Louis. The other was transported by ambulance for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

Police said it appears the three gunshot victims interrupted a burglary to the home when they arrived. Evans-Blakey was employed as a handy man by the homeowner, police added.

After an initial investigation by the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis and follow-up investigation by the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department, two male suspects were identified. The suspect vehicle sought in the shooting was a light blue or silver Chevrolet Equinox with a yellow light or light bar on its top. Police said 18 investigators from departments all over the area assisted the sheriff’s department as part of the Major Case Squad.

Austin Evans-Blakey

“I want to thank the Major Case Squad investigators that worked this case, and St. Clair County Assistant State’s Attorney Brian Kerr,” St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson said. “These kinds of crimes are overwhelming for most departments, and the hours put in by these investigators over these last two weeks is the reason these men are in custody and charged. At least there can be some peace for the victims and community knowing these dangerous individuals are off the streets. There is still work to be done, and lab analysis is pending on many items and additional charges could be filed at a later date.”

In December 2021, Johnson was charged with two counts of aggravated fleeing/eluding police and one count of fleeing/eluding police following an evening incident on Route 3 in Dupo. Johnson’s vehicle was eventually found crashed, after which Johnson was located during a search.

Morrison, formerly of St. Louis, also has prior criminal activity in this area. In March 2016, Morrison was sentenced in Monroe County Circuit Court to five years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for possession of meth with intent to deliver stemming from a Jan. 29 arrest on Route 3 at Skyline Drive in Columbia. Charges of aggravated fleeing or eluding police and felony meth trafficking were dismissed at that time as part of his guilty plea.

In February 2021, Morrison was arrested by East Carondelet police on warrants for felony aggravated fleeing/eluding police.

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