NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control says it is investigating the incident surrounding Paul Johnson’s death in Norfolk on February 23.
Johnson was a sophomore at Old Dominion University, and investigators say he was walking home on W. 48th Street when he was struck in the back of the head. He later died in the hospital from his injuries.
Two suspects were arrested: David Grimm Jr. was charged with second degree murder and Christopher Chase Johnson (no relation to the victim) was charged with assault.
“He was one of the nicest kids you would ever come across,” said Steve Landen, who said Paul Johnson was a good friend of his.
The investigation is ongoing and both suspects appeared in Norfolk court. Now, Virginia’s ABC is involved.
“I think they should investigate it as much as they possibly can,” said ODU Senior Dakotah Morrison. “They should be asking as many students as they can, as many people as they had access to at the scene.”
ABC spokeswoman Kathleen Shaw told WAVY.com the agency is looking into whether a bar, restaurant or vendor with an ABC license was involved in what led up to Johnson’s death. Shaw would not provide specifics of what investigators are looking for. Rather, they’re looking for any wrong on the part of the licensee.
At a recent bond hearing for Grimm, a witness testified the suspects had been at bar before the fight. Witnesses have told WAVY.com the men were at the Edge, a bar right next to campus. During the bond hearing, the witness said Chase Johnson was kicked out of the bar. Students said, they wish bar employees could have done more to prevent the assault that followed.
“I don’t know if I can say the bar is directly responsible, but they do play a factor,” said Landen.
Both Landen and Morrison agreed they think any bar should be responsible for patrons that appear to be out of control.
“This individual must have been displaying some sort of rowdy crazy behavior long before ever leaving the Edge,” said Morrison.
The Edge’s owner, Billy Baldwin, told WAVY.com he is working with ABC agents regarding the investigation. However, as he has said since the assault happened, Baldwin stressed that it did not involve his business. Baldwin said they are cooperating and they’ve already turned all surveillance video over to both ABC and police.
Shaw said if ABC does find any violations related to this case, actions will be taken, such as charges and then a hearing.