A San Diego area criminal street gang member has been sentenced to a 55 years to life, plus an additional 26 years in the slammer for the 2019 deadly shooting of an Alpha Project security guard, according to the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office. The defendant, Johnny Hill, has faced justice for his role in the murder of Ernest Buchanan Jr., a well-regarded security guard who served at the Alpha Project homeless shelter, and the injury of his colleague, Dorian Cunningham.
According to a report by DA News Center, Hill and his co-defendant, Floyd Garrett—who is awaiting his sentencing on January 22—were convicted by a jury of second-degree murder with a special allegation of personal gun use causing death, among other charges.
The sentencing was announced by District Attorney Summer Stephan, who emphasized that while justice was served, “this sentence will not bring back Ernest Buchanan Jr.”
The ill-fated area around the Alpha Project, positioned at 1700 Imperial Ave, has been a notorious hotbed for violent activity and drug-related gang operations.
San Diego law enforcement officials have grappled with a high incidence of violence in this particular territory, which includes an alarming number of police calls over the past two years—spanning from homicides to violent disturbances.
The tragic night of the shooting unfolded as Buchanan Jr. and Cunningham took a break from their security duties to grab a snack.
Little did they know, Hill and Garrett, identified as gang affiliates, had converged in the vicinity with malicious intent.
The assailants were captured on city and Alpha Project surveillance footage, laying in wait in the shadows prior to targeting Buchanan upon his return.
Cunningham’s injuries were non-fatal, but Buchanan succumbed to his wounds after an urgent rush to the hospital, the DA’s news release detailed.
Deputy District Attorney Matthew Carberry spearheaded the prosecution, relentlessly piecing together the case to ensure the fatal shooting did not go unanswered. Stephan further committed to relentless efforts to make neighborhoods safe from violence. As the San Diego community continues to reel from the loss of one of their own, the heavy sentence dealt to Hill aims to stand as a testament to the gravity of gang crimes and the enduring quest for rightful justice.