Harper College Professor Charged with Attempted Murder After Firing Shots on Interstate 80 in Iowa


A longtime Harper College psychology professor, now barred from campus after an arrest on January 11, 2018, faces charges of attempted murder. Charles Johnston, age 60, allegedly fired shots along Interstate 80 west of the Quad Cities in Iowa before engaging in a shootout with police.

Charles Johnston, attempted murder suspect
Charles Johnston
Police said Johnston is also accused of firing five more rounds at motorists at a BP gas station in Cedar County after leaving the rest area and driving west. Johnston then pulled off at another exit along Interstate 80.

Iowa State Patrol said Friday that Charles Johnston, 60, a Belvidere resident, was arrested January 11, 2018 and later charged after police responded to a 911 call reporting shots being fired along I-80 East at a rest stop near Atalissa, Iowa. The rest stop is about 40 miles west of the Quad Cities area.

As police were responding to the area, Johnston exchanged gunfire with Iowa state troopers and local police officers in a brief stand-off on a county road. He was arrested without any injuries to police or civilians.

Police also charged Johnson with assault on a peace officer with a dangerous weapon.

Johnston has been employed at Harper College in Palatine since 1996, serving as an associate professor in the psychology department. Johnston has a B.S., Weber State University, an M.A., University of Nebraska, and a Ph.D., University of Nebraska.

According to the Harper College website, Johnston taught three courses called introduction to psychology, introduction to research, and theories of personality during the fall 2017 semester, but the website does not list him as a professor for the spring 2018 class schedule.

Johnson remains in Cedar County Sheriff’s department jail after his bond was set at $1 million cash.

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