Man to be tried in school break-in |

Man to be tried in school break-in

by F.T. Norton

A Stagecoach man will be tried on charges he broke into Carson High School on Christmas morning and stole cash and candy from the student store, a judge determined Thursday.

“You can’t get much lower than stealing candy money from high school kids,” said Justice of the Peace John Tatro in refusing to lower Gary Ivan Johnson’s bail of $50,000.

Johnson, 51, will be tried on suspicion of felony burglary and failure to register as a sex offender. He was sentenced to 38 years in a Colorado prison in 1983 for a rape there, but served only about 16 years.

On Thursday, Deputy District Attorney Chris Hicks showed the judge school surveillance footage of the mustachioed burglar dressed in a black leather jacket, gray gloves, black-and-white tennis shoes and a beanie cap making his way through the closed school about 6 a.m.

When police arrived some 10 minutes after the intrusion alarm sounded, the student store’s cash register had been emptied of about $200 and some candy bars were missing, Hicks said.

Deputy Wayne Wheeler testified that at about 9 p.m. Christmas night, he spotted Johnson walking into a room at the Nugget Motel on Stewart Street and noticed his black-and-white tennis shoes and mustache that resembled the man in the surveillance footage. He said when he spoke to Johnson, he learned he was a convicted sex-offender who had registered his address as being in Stagecoach, but had a room rented in his name at the Nugget.

Johnson gave Wheeler consent to enter his motel room, where he allegedly found clothing that matched the burglar’s and “four or five candy bars resting on the bed,” Hicks said.

Public defender Steven McGuire argued the surveillance pictures showed someone who was the same sex and race as Johnson, but that’s where the resemblance ended.

“Those photographs we have are simply not my client,” McGuire said.

But Tatro disagreed.

“They have the same jawline, the same look,” he said. “It isn’t just a white guy.”

No trial date was set.

Contact F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.