Decorated US Marine veteran arrested in Salem man's murder

Murder victim's family, defense attorney speak out

By Lindsey Kennett - Reporter

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. - A decorated Marine veteran was arrested on suspicion of murder Tuesday and released the next day from jail. Now, the murder victim's family is speaking out.

Roanoke County police arrested 29-year-old Patrick McDonald in connection with the death of 23-year-old Keonte Johnson.

McDonald was released on bond after a hearing Wednesday.

Investigators said McDonald shot Johnson during an argument at a house party in Hollins in May of 2018. Two other people were also injured.

McDonald's attorney, Matthew Dunne, said his client is a decorated U.S. Marine Corps veteran who was honorably discharged and awarded a Purple Heart. He said that McDonald has post-traumatic stress disorder from his time overseas, although he's not taking medication. Dunne said McDonald does not have a criminal record.

Johnson's mother said the arrest is only "partial justice" and she wants McDonald to be locked behind bars.

"I mean, I know it would never bring Keonte back, but it'd be justice to where he's paying for what he did wrong taking my son away from his family," said Tanya Squires, Johnson's mom. "My son will never be able to walk his daughter down the aisle or teach my grandson how to fish or anything."

Johnson's brother said he's slightly relieved, but frustrated that McDonald was let out of jail.

"It's not over until the gavel hits," said Daniel Johnson.

McDonald's attorney defended his client's innocence.

"We believe that, that we do have a very strong case of self-defense," said Dunne. "Mr. McDonald's position is that he is innocent of these charges and he very much looks forward to his day in court and being exonerated and getting this behind him and getting back to his family."

There are no other suspects in the case. McDonald's next court appearance hasn't been set.

Copyright 2019 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.