Friends say victim of shooting rage is nice guy
James McGeehan remained in serious condition Thursday after being shot seven times early Tuesday.
News of the assault came as a shock to those closest to McGeehan. He is described by his friends as a person who is easy to get along with. At 6 feet tall and nearly 260 pounds, his imposing stature quickly recedes when you talk to him, according to friend and employer at Mott Canyon Tavern and Grill, Mark White Jr.
“Jim is a very big guy, but he is a very mellow guy,” White said. “He is not boisterous. He is not arrogant. If Jimmy is in a confrontation, he will leave. He doesn’t mouth off or any of that stuff. He is not a confrontational individual. He is the last person you would expect this to happen to. You talk to anyone who knows Jimmy personally and they will tell you he is the happiest person you could want to meet. He is kind of person you warm up to quickly.”
McGeehan, and his alleged assailant, Donald Ray Lawson Jr., reportedly had a traffic altercation Super Bowl Sunday. White said McGeehan described the initial traffic incident, before the shooting occurred.
“Jimmy had told me about it a couple of times,” White said. “When Jimmy told me about it, it did not really sound like a confrontation. Jimmy passed him by on (Kingsbury) grade and (the man) followed him home. The guy asked him if he had a problem and Jimmy asked him if he should have a problem. At that point the guy brandished the gun. I told Jimmy he should call the police and he said he did not know who the guy was. He couldn’t make out any features. The really disturbing part about it is the fact that when he brandished the gun on Jimmy he said ‘I know where you live and I know where you work.’ “
During the nearly week-and-a-half between the traffic incident and the shooting, White said, McGeehan and the angry driver did not have any contact. White, along with other friends of McGeehan, are surprised that there was still anger after so much time had elapsed.
“I am positive that there wasn’t any other conflict between (McGeehan and Lawson,)” White said. “I have no idea why. It is so insane that something that happened on Super Bowl Sunday turned into something so horrible. It is very disturbing.”
The lack of apparent strong provocation in the shooting has left many of McGeehan’s loved ones asking how such a thing could happen.
“You try to find a reason for an unreasonable act,” White said. “You want a why or a reason for why this happened. I haven’t found anything to grab a hold of like that.”
There are few details on Lawson’s background, as many of his acquaintances and Planet Hollywood co-workers are, at best, guarded in their commentary. It is believed that he served in the Marine Corps before moving to Lake Tahoe sometime before 1997. Those who have been willing to speak regard him as friendly but confrontational at times.
“If he didn’t like people passing him he should have gotten a faster car,” said acquaintance Sean McDaniel. “He seemed like a mellow guy. I don’t know why he snapped. Never, never did I see anything like that from him personally.”
Mott Canyon plans on holding a fund-raiser Feb. 15 to help pay for McGeehan’s medical expenses. They will be raffling off prizes from 4 to 8 p.m. In addition, Mott Canyon has set up a bank account at Wells Fargo under James McGeehan’s name to collect donations.
On Thursday, police recovered the magazine and the barrel of the gun used in the assault from a ridge where the shooter is thought to have discarded the weapon. Recovery of the weapon was a difficult task as the suspect disassembled the weapon before he threw it over a ridge on Upper Kingsbury. To make matters more challenging, 4 inches of snow fell in the area Tuesday night. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Department has been diligently working on the case from the beginning.
“It is really commendable how fast the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department has dealt with situation,” White said. “Immediately after (the crime) they were stopping all cars in the area. On the way down to the hospital it gave me confidence that they would find the guy.”
Lawson was in custody by Tuesday evening, and has been arraigned on the charge of attempted murder. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Feb. 21.
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