Fatal July 4 bar fight suspect makes first court appearance - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Fatal July 4 bar fight suspect makes first court appearance

Posted: Updated:
MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. -

A man arrested in connection with a July 4th death outside a Morehead City bar made his first court appearance Tuesday morning.

Stephen Gomola, 23, of Morehead City is charged with involuntary manslaughter for the death of Steven Ray Johnson, 23, at Jack's Waterfront Bar in Morehead City.

Gomola waived his right to a court-appointed attorney, bringing his own attorney to court.

Carteret County district attorney Scott Thomas says Johnson got into a fight with one of Gomola's friends at the bar after a beer bottle was thrown into the water.

Thomas says Johnson pushed one of Gomola's friends, at which point Gomola stepped in and punched Johnson two or three times in the head and neck area. Johnson fell into the water and drowned. An autopsy showed he died of drowning, and blunt force trauma was a contributing factor in his death, said Thomas.

"During the course of that fight, one of the people involved in it went into the water. That's why Mr. Gomola is charged with involuntary manslaughter, as opposed to a murder charge, which is more of an intentional killing type of event," said Thomas.

Gomola was placed in jail under $25,000 secured and $25,000 unsecured bonds.

Officers said the 911 call to the bar was initially reported to them as a subject in the water. Morehead City Fire and EMS assisted by Atlantic Beach Fire and EMS responded with a water rescue attempt.  

Morehead City Police officers and the Dive Team responded in the recovery effort after it was determined the incident was no longer a water rescue.

"I feel awful about it," said Fabian Botta, the owner of Ruddy Duck Tavern, the bar next door to where the incident happened. "The families--both families involved in this have a terrible tragedy to go through."

9 On Your Side reached out to Jack's Waterfront Bar, but the owner said she had no comment out of respect for the privacy of the victim's and suspect's families.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Study: Alabama's 15 Most Dangerous Cities

    Study: Alabama's 15 Most Dangerous Cities

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 12:10 PM EDT2014-08-27 16:10:58 GMT
    Only one city in southern Alabama in among the state's 15 most dangerous and it's not even in the top 10, according to a new report.
    Only one city in southern Alabama in among the state's 15 most dangerous and it's not even in the top 10, according to a new report.
  • Allegations of neglect resurface in Vanceboro

    Allegations of neglect resurface in Vanceboro

    Thursday, August 28 2014 6:42 PM EDT2014-08-28 22:42:22 GMT
    The wife of a former state representative may be a in heap of trouble. One of her neighbors in Vanceboro is accusing her of animal neglect.
    The wife of a former state representative may be a in heap of trouble. One of her neighbors in Vanceboro is accusing her of animal neglect.
  • ECU Men's Basketball schedule released

    ECU Men's Basketball schedule released

    Thursday, August 28 2014 5:10 PM EDT2014-08-28 21:10:48 GMT
    East Carolina will make a record 17 national television appearances during the upcoming season as University athletic officials and the American Athletic Conference revealed the Pirates' entire 2014-15 schedule Thursday.
    East Carolina will make a record 17 national television appearances during the upcoming season as University athletic officials and the American Athletic Conference revealed the Pirates' entire 2014-15 schedule Thursday.
  • Most Recent SlideshowsMore>>

  • A flavor out of favor: Dog meat fades in S. Korea

    A flavor out of favor: Dog meat fades in S. Korea

    Friday, August 29 2014 3:33 AM EDT2014-08-29 07:33:30 GMT
    For more than 30 years, chef and restaurant owner Oh Keum-il built her expertise in cooking one traditional South Korean delicacy: dog meat.
    For more than 30 years, chef and restaurant owner Oh Keum-il built her expertise in cooking one traditional South Korean delicacy: dog meat.
  • Southern California gets more waves as storm eases

    Southern California gets more waves as storm eases

    Friday, August 29 2014 12:02 AM EDT2014-08-29 04:02:20 GMT
    Southern California is seeing the kind of epic surf usually associated with Hawaii or Tahiti. Beaches are thronged with wave riders and crowds are coming to watch the action even as seaside communities try to stave...
    High surf generated by a former hurricane in the eastern Pacific rolled onto Southern California beaches again Thursday, showing signs of diminishing but still bringing warnings of possible property damage and dangerous...
  • Woman unearths past of forgotten Indian cemetery

    Woman unearths past of forgotten Indian cemetery

    Thursday, August 28 2014 10:09 PM EDT2014-08-29 02:09:08 GMT
    A dusty, barren field in the shadow of a busy Arizona interstate was for decades a place where children played freely, teenagers spooked themselves on Halloween and locals dumped trash, seemingly unaware of the...
    A dusty, barren field in the shadow of a busy Arizona interstate was for decades a place where children played freely, teenagers spooked themselves on Halloween and locals dumped trash, seemingly unaware of the history...
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.