Woman Sought In Commune Shooting Nabbed In Philly

Victim Was Co-Founder Of Ganas Community

CBS/AP/June 18, 2007

Philadelphia Federal authorities say they have a captured a woman wanted in the shooting of a Staten Island commune leader more than a year ago.

Rebekah Johnson, 44, was arrested today getting off an elevated train in West Philadelphia.

Johnson is being arraigned on an attempted murder charge in the shooting of Jeff Gross, 52, who helped found the Staten Island-based Ganas community. The community shares some living expenses and describes itself as "an experiment in open dialogue" on its Web site.

Johnson is accused of jumping from the bushes at the commune leader's home and shooting him in the chest and arm in May 2006. Gross survived.

Johnson lived with the community from 1986 to 1990 and again from 1994 to 1996, but was later asked to leave, neighbors and commune members have said. She has accused the group of sexual assault and brainwashing while Gross has accused Johnson of stalking them.

The Ganas group says its purpose "is to explore applications of feedback to learning. We want to bring reason and emotion together in daily problem solving, in order to create our world, with love, the way we want it to be."

Ninety residents share the community's 10 homes and prepare group dinners five days a week. Members either pay a monthly fee of about $700 for room and board, or they work at one of the shops owned by the community.

Johnson was not charged with any federal offenses and was being arraigned on the New York charges, Kurtz said.

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