Man convicted in EMS student shooting death

By Sarah Nigbor
Posted 7/3/24

An 18-year-old Bay City man has been convicted of homicide resulting in the death of an Ellsworth Middle School eighth grader last year.

Riley James Lacroix was convicted of felony homicide by …

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Man convicted in EMS student shooting death


An 18-year-old Bay City man has been convicted of homicide resulting in the death of an Ellsworth Middle School eighth grader last year.

Riley James Lacroix was convicted of felony homicide by negligent handling of dangerous weapon/explosive June 19 in Pierce County Circuit Court in the shooting death of 13-year-old Joshua Johnson. He was sentenced to five years of probation and six months in jail (on home monitoring), ordered to pay $32,018.97 in restitution to the family and $6,479.58 in other costs and fined $518. He is not allowed to possess or use any firearms or have contact with Johnson’s family.  

Joshua is the son of Terry Johnson and Tina Passe. According to his obituary, he was a vibrant young man always willing to embrace new adventures. He loved sports and played baseball, football and wrestling. He also enjoyed hunting, fishing, watching movies and spending time with his family and was quite patriotic. His family wants him to be remembered for the amazing young man he was during his short time on earth. 

According to the complaint:

Pierce County deputies responded at 2 a.m. Nov. 4, 2023 to a Bay City residence where a juvenile had been shot in the head. Life Link Air III flew Johnson to Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul. Lacroix, identified as the suspect, had fled the scene and returned to his residence on County Road EE.

Police learned that Johnson’s parents and one brother were asleep upstairs when the shooting occurred. They had no idea a gun had been brought into their home and advised that Lacroix visited their son occasionally. Another brother was playing video games in his room, which is in the opposite corner of the basement from where the shooting occurred. When he heard yelling, he went to the other room and found his brother bleeding from his head.

A friend of Johnson’s, who was also over at the time, had run upstairs to fetch Johnson’s parents. He told police that Lacroix, he and Johnson were hanging out in the basement together, goofing around and wrestling. Lacroix had brought a pistol with him and was showing it off. After the wrestling match, the friend and Johnson laid down on a bed to play on their phones. Lacroix told them he was going to leave, but shortly after, the friend heard a loud bang and Lacroix asked Johnson if he was okay. He rolled over and ran from the room to get Johnson’s parents, at which point Lacroix fled the scene. 

After police couldn’t find the spent shell casing, they responded to Lacroix’s residence in Isabelle township. Lacroix’s family had no idea he had left the house earlier in the evening. Lacroix told the police the shooting was accidental; officers found the gun underneath his bed.

Lacroix said he went to the Johnsons around 10:30-11 p.m. to hang out. He sneaked out of his bedroom window with anyone knowing. Lacroix said he and the friend decided to take a walk down to the village park by Lake Pepin. While they were walking back, the friend allegedly pulled out a knife and said he’d seen coyotes in the area. They decided at that point to go to Lacroix’s to get a gun Lacroix had taken from his grandfather and hidden in his room.

After retrieving the gun, they walked back to Johnsons. After the wrestling match while Johnson and the friend were on their phones, Lacroix said he picked up the gun and started playing with it, pretending to shoot at the wall behind the bed. He said each time he moved the gun lower and lower while saying “pew, pew, pew.” The gun went off when it was pointed toward Johnson’s head. Lacroix said he ran home because he was scared. He hid the Smith and Wesson .22 LR semi-automatic handgun under his bed.

Johnson died from his injuries on Monday, Nov. 6.

Riley LaCroix, homicide conviction, Pierce County Circuit Court, Josh Johnson, death, Ellsworth, Wisconsin