“An American hero” among those laid to rest after California shooting

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Funerals held for 3 San Bernardino shooting victims (photos).

Those close to Shannon Johnson knew him to be fearless — whether he was moving across the country to pursue love, rescuing stray animals in the path of a wildfire, or trying to shield a co-worker from gunfire during the last moments of his life. Shannon Johnson, 45, of Los Angeles, received a hero’s funeral in his home state of Georgia 10 days after the attack where he and 13 others were killed in California. One of the health inspector’s colleagues wounded in the attack, Denise Peraza, said later that Johnson wrapped an arm tightly around her as bullets went flying and assured her: ‘I got you’. The family of 45-year-old Johnson planned a funeral service Saturday at a Baptist church in the rural city of Jesup, where his late father grew up and where his grandmother lives. Johnson was sitting next to co-worker Denise Peraza at a holiday luncheon for San Bernardino County environmental health employees on Dec. 2 when a pair of attackers with assault rifles began spraying bullets.

At Johnson’s memorial service, about 200 people filed into the church where roses, lilies and carnations sent by mourners decorated the pulpit amid strands of white lights and potted poinsettias set out for the Christmas season. He’s always been that way,” Rob Johnson, Shannon Johnson’s older brother, told reporters before the service. “I’m sure that when he saw the young lady, he thought of his sister or his girlfriend or his former wife. The Reverend Ed Bacon, a family relative, noted Johnson’s selfless final act echoed that of his father, who died while saving another man during an industrial accident at a Kentucky paper mill in 1978. He’s a man of action.” Nguyen was remembered in a service conducted in Vietnamese at St Barbara’s Catholic church in Santa Ana, not far from Orange County’s Little Saigon area.

Johnson grew up in the Macon area, where he played baseball and football in high school, Bacon said, and drove a Honda hatchback with a stereo so loud that people could hear him coming from blocks away. When wildfires raged in Southern California years ago, his brother said, Johnson rounded up stray pets in his pickup truck and took them to a church for shelter. He also had tattoos for his mother, father and two ex-wives, who shared space on Johnson’s body along with inked portraits of the Virgin Mary and ‘Gone With the Wind’ actress Vivien Leigh. Johnson’s brother said that as relatives gathered in Georgia to say goodbye, their grandmother, Willie Dell Johnson, helped put the tragedy of his death into perspective. He fought in Eritrea’s war for independence and believed the U.S. was a refuge from violence and fear. “I never saw him in a situation he couldn’t get out of,” his son, Bruk Amanios, said during the church service. “He always took care of people around him.”

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