18-year-old charged with chasing Pamela Johnson to her death on Lake Shore Drive ordered held on $500K bond

Chicago Sun-Times

Semaj Waters | Chicago Police

Semaj Waters | Chicago Police

An 18-year-old man accused of murder in the death of Pamela Johnson, a woman he allegedly chased into Lake Shore Drive traffic during a robbery attempt, has been ordered held on a $500,000 bond.

Cook County prosecutors allege Semaj Waters was in a group of seven or eight men who tried to rob Johnson and her boyfriend, Eugene Jackson, then chased the couple into traffic near Ohio Street.

“There is just enough probable cause here for me to find that something went on, and this individual was involved,” Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. said, addressing Waters’ father and a group of a half-dozen other relatives in the courtroom gallery.

“You cannot deny the fact that a woman is now deceased, a mother … people loved her,” the judge said, looking toward members of Johnson’s family seated at the opposite corner of the gallery.

Pamela Johnson | photo provided

Pamela Johnson | photo provided

Outside the courthouse, Waters’ father said his son didn’t run off after the crash, and sat along the concrete barrier within a few feet of Johnson, 32, as she lay in the roadway, asking police whether they would take her to the hospital.

Andrew Holmes, a community activist who is related to Johnson, said her family is satisfied that Waters is no threat if he is able to make bond, and are content to let the case move forward. Holmes called on the others who were out with Waters that night to turn themselves in.

Waters is charged with murder, mob action and attempted robbery. Both Johnson and Jackson were struck by the truck as they tried to run across several lanes of traffic near Ohio Street at around 1:30 a.m. Johnson, the mother of a 12-year-old son, died at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Jackson and Johnson grew nervous as they watched Waters and two other men walking behind them on the lakefront, Assistant State’s Attorney Anna Sedelmaier said Saturday. Waters and the other, unnamed men walked back to a larger group of people, and the couple decided if Waters and the others came back, they would flee across Lake Shore Drive.

Someone in Waters’ group shouted “we have a runner” and the group chased after them, authorities said.

Jackson said he saw Waters holding a gun as Jackson and Johnson climbed over the barrier. Surveillance cameras on a building on the west side of Lake Shore Drive showed Waters walking with the group that chased Jackson and Johnson. Video evidence also showed Waters walking away “for several minutes” after Johnson was struck, authorities said.

Police last week said they were questioning two adults and four teenagers in connection with Johnson’s death and had released CTA surveillance photos form the Chicago Avenue Red Line stop, showing the group of men who allegedly were involved in the robbery attempt, filmed shortly after the fatal crash.

Jackson claimed at least one member of the group had flashed a gun before he and Johnson climbed over a barrier at the side of Lakeshore Drive. The truck struck both Jackson and Johnson, though Jackson was not seriously injured. The group that had threatened the couple scattered, bolting across Lakeshore after a CPD officer in a passing squad car flashed his emergency lights.

Police said the video supported Jackson’s account of the incident, and shows the couple was approached by a group of seven or eight men before the fatal accident.

Jackson said he and Johnson were sitting near Lake Michigan, enjoying the warm weather as they discussed their future together. The couple made frequent trips to the lakefront from their South Side neighborhood.

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