Charles T. Johnson had worked for 16 years as a salesman at a Home Depot store in the Fort Lauderdale area, until he was fired in 2004 for failing to show up on the job.
Johnson, who is Black, sued the giant home-building supply chain in a racial discrimination claim over his termination — but lost. He was even ordered to pay the company’s legal costs of $2,922.57, court records show.
Flash forward many years: Johnson has been charged in federal court with cyberstalking and threatening to shoot attorneys at Miami’s Morgan, Lewis & Bockius law firm who represented Home Depot in his labor dispute, according to an indictment and a criminal complaint. Johnson pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Friday in Miami federal court. The public defender’s office, which is representing him, did not respond to a request for comment.
An FBI affidavit filed with the complaint says that Johnson left voicemail messages threatening to injure and kill lawyers at Morgan, Lewis as well employees at Home Depot.
“”You think I like doing this? I don’t,” Johnson said in a Nov. 22, 2020, voicemail left for the lead Morgan, Lewis attorney in his employment lawsuit. “Let it go … cause the only thing that’s gonna happen if I get it, I’m either gonna take it to the media, or I’m gonna go buy me a whole bunch of guns. That’s what you want?”
That same day, Johnson left another voicemail for the Morgan, Lewis lawyer, alluding to mass shootings in schools nationwide and in Las Vegas. “Let it go, because like I said, I understand why people are going and taking these high powered rifles and guns and armament that they use to fight wars. … I understand this [is] why somebody would go in a shopping mall, because of the same bullshit I’m going through, I know they went through it.”
In total, according to an FBI affidavit, Morgan, Lewis reported in December that Johnson left 60 “harassing” voicemail messages with multiple attorneys at the Brickell Avenue law firm over a one-week period and that Home Depot received similar voicemails from him. Home Depot’s corporate office told FBI agents that Johnson called and left 155 voicemails with numerous company employees over a two-month period.
“I don’t got a whole lot of money to go to the gun store, and you know what I’m saying,” said one message left with a Home Depot employee on Nov. 27, 2020. “They might do something to push me over the edge. You understand where I’m going with this?”
During the FBI investigation, agents obtained a letter dated June 2007 that Johnson had sent to MetLife Insurance Company, which at the time was the benefits administrator for Home Depot. In the letter, Johnson, who had been fired and lost his employment discrimination case, wrote that he “had a plan to kill as many of Home Depot employees as I could and then kill [himself].”
In response, Home Depot issued a “risk protection order” in Broward County, stating that “Johnson was not permitted to have any contact with HD or its employees,” the affidavit says.
What’s not clear from the FBI affidavit is why Johnson, who lives in Lauderhill but is now detained before trial, would start harassing employees at the Morgan, Lewis law firm and Home Depot so many years after he was fired from his job at the Oakland Park store. Johnson also started directing his treats at other targets that were not involved in his employment dispute with Home Depot.
Neither the law firm nor Home Depot returned requests for comment for this story.
In early January of this year, Home Depot’s corporate security contacted the FBI about another threatening voicemail left with a company employee. “Obviously somebody ain’t getting the message. … The Seminole Hard Rock, I’m going to shut them down first. … It’s going to be Seminole Hard Rock then it’s going to be Florida Lottery. … And it’s going to be in that order.”