Amateur MMA Fighter Charged in Death of U.S. Airman in Florida Bar Brawl
An Illinois man is in custody after punching the airman in the head.
An Illinois man visiting Florida was charged in the death of a U.S. airman in a brawl outside a bar in Panama City, Florida, last week, police said. Ross Johnson, 23, of Carterville, Illinois, was charged with manslaughter in the death of Air Force Airman 1st Class Dayvon Larry, 31, of Malone, Florida. Police described Johnson as an amateur mixed martial arts fighter who got into a fight outside Coyote Ugly Saloon in Panama City late at night. Johnson admitted punching Larry in the head, according to an arrest affidavit. Here is what you need to know about this tragic incident.
Who Is Ross Johnson?
Johnson is from southern Illinois and was visiting Florida. He notched five wins and two losses in MMA bouts and has "three years of advanced fighting training," the affidavit said.
Larry was from a small town 70 miles north of Panama City, police said. He was a member of the 325th Security Forces Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, the base's Facebook page said last Wednesday. "He was truly an outstanding Airman," the post said. "His passion for helping the local youth and his fellow Airmen will be sorely missed by all. Our deepest condolences to his family, friends and fellow Airmen."
An argument broke out between two groups of men inside Coyote Ugly Saloon and spilled outside into a fight around 11 p.m. Sunday, police said. Johnson "and his friends got into an altercation with a group of unknown males at Coyote Ugly," according to the affidavit. "He stated an unknown male attacked his friend outside in the parking lot after a previous altercation occurred inside the bar."
Larry was not part of the fight but may have been acquainted with a person in the argument before the fight broke out, police said. Outside, someone punched Larry once in the head, and he lost consciousness, police said. "After striking the victim, [Johnson] continued to … run over to his friend where the other altercation was occurring. … After the altercation, the defendant fled the scene with his friend," the affidavit said.
What Happened Next
Johnson sent a message to a woman on Snapchat after the fight: "Dude is still not moving," according to the affidavit. He also told a friend, "Man I hit that guy, I laid him out, and I think I killed him," the affidavit said. Security personnel broke up the fight and called emergency responders to care for Larry, who was lying on the ground unattended, police said.
First responders gave Larry CPR and took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said. Preliminary autopsy results concluded the "cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head," the affidavit said. The autopsy revealed a softball-sized bruise behind Larry's left ear and a skull fracture about 3 inches long, the affidavit said.
Surveillance video outside the bar revealed Johnson's actions and led police to him at a nearby hotel, police said. Police took Johnson into custody for questioning, during which he "changed his story multiple times," the affidavit said. He ultimately admitted to punching Larry in the head, the affidavit said.
Johnson was charged with manslaughter and is in jail on a $250,000 bond, according to official records. It's unclear whether he has entered a plea.