SILVER SPRING, Md. — A terrifying shooting in the busy heart of downtown Silver Spring last December sent club goers ducking for cover as the now convicted shooter opened fire. On Wednesday, a Montgomery County judge handed the 29-year-old gunman -- John Tomlinson, -- his sentence: 15 years in prison. He'll spend a mandatory ten years behind bars.
Multiple cameras captured exactly what happened near two nightclubs at Thayer Ave. and Mayor Lane on Dec. 13, 2021. A Chrysler scraped an illegally parked Mercedes in an alley. Two men leapt on the windshield on the Chrysler and yanked at the doors. The driver fled as Tomlinson grabbed a handgun from an SUV, ran over and opened fire.
In total nine shots were fired, and the video shows people in the clubs throwing themselves on the floor, as one bullet hit a building right next to where some of the people had been standing.
A neighbor, who asked only use his first name (Semere) because he's still concerned about his safety, says the shooting woke him up at 2 a.m. He remembers feeling scared for the safety of his 5-year-old son, and everyone in the crowded neighborhood.
"They were fighting about petty things," Semere said. "And to escalate like that in the middle of downtown Silver Spring where there's a lot of crowds, that's a bit senseless.
Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy called the shooting "callous behavior."
"It's a miracle no one was killed," McCarthy said.
Semere's Tesla captured some of the best pictures of Tomlinson firing, and he contacted police to share the footage.
"They identified [Tomlinson] from the video," McCarthy said. "A detective said 'I know that guy!' That's how we identified the shooter."
When police caught Tomlinson 45 days later, he had two guns on him.
"That's pretty shocking," Semere said.
A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge sentenced Tomlinson to 15 years in prison for attempted second degree murder, and a concurrent 10 years as a felon in possession of a firearm.
"If we want to have a safe community, we have to come together," McCarthy said. "Just like the owner of this car brought to the attention of the police, 'I have a video.'"
One of the other men who jumped on the Chrysler, Osman Sesay, was shot to death by police two weeks later, a short distance away after he allegedly pointed a gun at officers who had stopped his vehicle, suspecting it was involved in another shooting on Bonifant Street.
Tomlinson's lawyer, Howard Cheris, says the videotaped shooting wasn't a premeditated attack. He said Tomlinson regrets firing and is glad no one was hurt. Though he'll spend a good chunk of his life in prison, his lawyer says he's hoping others will learn from his mistake.