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Shootout at China Cafe: 1 dead, 1 critically injured

Shooter Leandro Bernard Johnson on the run; cops find body of second armed robber Alonzo Starks

Wanted suspect served less than year on aggravated assault charge in Clayton with other charges dropped

One man is dead and another is clinging to life following a Friday night shootout between assailants who stormed a Chinese restaurant in Fayetteville and an employee who caught them by surprise with a gun of his own, police said.

The employee squeezed off several shots, at least one of which hit Alonzo Starks, 25, of Morrow, in the head, according to Lt. Mike Whitlow of the Fayetteville Police Department.

Police said a second gunman, identified as Leandro Bernard Johnson, 27, of Ellenwood, returned fire, striking a different restaurant employee. That worker was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital and later reported to be in critical condition.

Police said Starks and Johnson stormed into the China Cafe in the 900 block of North Glynn Street around 10:50 p.m. Friday, holding three employees at gunpoint, police said. After shots were fired, Johnson and Starks fled, police said.

Detectives are looking for Johnson, who is believed to be driving a 2005 burgundy Buick Lacrosse with a drive-out auto tag.

At right, mug shot of Johnson.

Below, mug shot from previous arrest of Alonzo Starks, 25, of Morrow.

Starks’ body was recovered Monday in an abandoned home in Morrow, police said.

A third suspect believed to be the getaway driver was arrested Monday: Alvin James Scott, 26, of Jonesboro, police said.

Authorities said Johnson and Starks had the upper hand on the three restaurant employees until a distraction allowed one of the workers to pull out a handgun and fire several shots at Starks, at least one of which struck him in the head.

At that point, Johnson is believed to have returned fire, striking a different restaurant employee than the one who fired the first shots.

The break in the case came from one of Starks’ relatives who suspected he was involved in the shooting, police said.

Because Starks died as a direct result of the attempted heist, the other suspects in the case may ultimately face murder charges, although that determination has not yet been made, according to Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard. Ballard said his office will make that call once they get the case file, which could take a few weeks or more.

“The rule is, if you commit a felony and somebody is killed, and they are killed as a direct result of that felony you are committing, then felony murder can apply,” Ballard said. “And it doesn’t matter if that person killed during the felony was killed by you or even if he was on your side.”

Ballard said his office would have to weigh a number of considerations in making that decision including the justification of the employee who shot Starks and other considerations among the facts collected in the case.

Johnson has a rap sheet in Clayton County, according to Clayton court records. He was paroled in May by state officials after serving just over seven months of a one-year sentence stemming from a felony aggravated assault conviction in Clayton County.

Johnson had nine years’ probation tacked on to that sentence, and Clayton prosecutors dismissed four other charges filed against him in the case as part of a negotiated plea.

The judge in that case sentenced Johnson under the first offender act, which allows the criminal conviction to be wiped from his record if he completes the sentence successfully without re-offending.

Prior to the aggravated assault conviction, Johnson appeared in Clayton County courts on a variety of other charges including entering an auto, obstruction of a police officer, theft by shoplifting and others.

Fayetteville police, who have been working the case around the clock since the incident, have been assisted by their counterparts in Morrow and Clayton County, officials said.

Below, Alvin James Scott, 26, of Jonesboro, believed to be the getaway driver in the robbery.

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