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Man jailed after beating up a man with a child in his arms

James Ralph Johnson
James Ralph Johnson

A Eustis man was arrested after he reportedly choked and struck a man who had a child in his arms.

James Ralph Johnson, 56, was charged with simple battery and burglary with battery after the altercation with his 1-year-old granddaughter’s father, which happened Tuesday evening at an undisclosed residence in Leesburg.

A Lake County sheriff’s deputy responded to the home and found the victim sitting in his car with an ice bag on his face and blood on his face and chest. The victim told the deputy he was with his children’s mother when her father – Johnson – walked into the home. The victim said Johnson grabbed him by the neck while he was holding the child and forced him against the wall. He said while he was being held against the wall, he couldn’t breathe for 10 to 15 seconds and thought he was going to pass out, according to the sheriff’s office arrest report.

The victim said he fell over a child safety gate with the child still in his arms. He said he got up with the child and ran to his vehicle, where he locked the door and tried to put the window up. But Johnson followed him, forced the window down, and struck him multiple times with a closed fist. Johnson then pulled the victim out of the vehicle through the window and continued striking him until neighbors separated them, the report said.

The deputy spoke with Johnson, who said the victim let him in when he arrived at the house. He said they started to argue and the victim grabbed him by the neck, which started the altercation. However, there were no apparent marks or signs on Johnson’s neck that correlated with his statement, according to the report.

Johnson’s daughter told the deputy she was in the bathroom when the fight started, but she came out to see Johnson holding the victim by the neck with their daughter in his arms. She said she tried to get the child from the victim’s arms when they all fell to the ground. Johnson’s daughter said the victim ran out of the house still holding the child while Johnson followed. She said when they got to the car and the victim put the child in the car seat, she was able to get her and bring her back inside the residence, the report said.

The victim’s son and Johnson’s wife corroborated her statements. Johnson was taken to the Lake County Jail and released after posting $26,000 bond.

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