Jurors convicted a man of first-degree murder for shooting into a crowd of people outside a Winona bar in a late-night rift over a parking spot. A 53-year-old local musician was killed.
Ricky D. Waiters, 51, of Winona, was found guilty Tuesday in Winona County District Court in connection with the July 2016 shooting.
Killed was Robert C. “Bob” Johnson. A 28-year-old man, Sean Patrick O’Brien, of Winona, was wounded.
Jurors also convicted Waiters on other charges including first-degree assault and illegally possessing a firearm.
Waiters had been confronted about his choice of parking places moments before the gunfire erupted, according to the charges. Waiters’ attorney said his client fired in self-defense when people rushed his vehicle.
County Attorney Karin Sonneman challenged Waiters’ self-defense claim in closing arguments, according to the Winona Daily News, saying that Waiters opened fire “without warning, without reason, without justification, without remorse.”
Sentencing is scheduled for April 5. He will receive an automatic life sentence.
The shooting occurred shortly after 1 a.m. behind EB’s Corner Bar in the 700 block of W. 5th Street.
Waiters was challenged by one of the people standing behind the bar about where he was parking his SUV because it was too close to a pit for cooking chicken “and everyone knew not to park there,” the charges read.
A witness said that Waiters drove out of the spot, shouted expletives and fired at least six shots from a handgun.
Johnson, a member of the Winona-based bluegrass-folk band Beet Root Stew, was shot in the chest. O’Brien was wounded in the leg.
Johnson, who played banjo, guitar, mandolin and fiddle in the band, bounced between Winona and working on an oil rig in Alaska. Bandmate Wes McRaven said Johnson was getting ready to retire after 30 years of working in Alaska.
Parker Forsell, director of the annual Mid West Music Fest in Winona, described Johnson as “a big supporter of the bluegrass music scene here.”