Funerals held for 3 slain in California shooting

13 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Funerals held for 3 slain in California shooting.

JESUP, Ga. Praised for shielding a co-worker from the gunfire that took his own life during the massacre in San Bernardino, Calif., Shannon Johnson was to return to Georgia for burial in his home state.

Inside Calvary Baptist Church in the rural city of Jesup, where Johnson was born about 2,300 miles from the auditorium in which he and 13 others died, a congressman gave his family a folded U.S. flag while praising him as “an American hero.” “I’m sure that when he saw the young lady, he thought of his sister or his girlfriend or his former wife,” he said. “That’s just the kind of guy he was. He’s a man of action.” 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.

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. A colleague 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.” Those would be his last words.

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. Authorities say Syed Rizwan Farook, who worked with Johnson and the other victims, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, opened fire at the holiday gathering before the shooters were killed in a gun battle with police. Rob Johnson, Shannon Johnson’s older brother, said before the funeral Saturday that it’s no surprise his sibling tried to save a co-worker during the attack. “Shannon’s fearless.

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.

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