San Bernardino shooting victim who shielded co-worker gets last rites in Georgia

13 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Georgia funeral planned for California victim credited with shielding co-worker from bullets.

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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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. Shannon and Rob Johnson’s father died in 1978 while saving another man during an industrial accident at a paper mill in Kentucky, Rob Johnson said. 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 with 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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