Massacre victim hailed as a hero for shielding wounded coworker


Forty-five-year old Shannon Johnson of Los Angeles is being hailed as a hero for shielding a wounded coworker during the San Bernardino attack.

Denise Peraza was reportedly shot in the back and survived, but Johnson died of the injuries he recieved.

Johnson’s girlfriend, Mandy Pifer, told CBS News the couple had been dating for three years after meeting online, and they were planning to marry in the next month or so.

Pifer, a grief counselor, said she had just finished meeting with a client when she learned of the shooting and texted Johnson to see if he was okay, reports CBS News correspondent David Begnaud.

“The text I sent was ‘Hey, mass shooting out that way. I hope you’re okay.'” When she didn’t get a response, she sent another: “WHY THE F ISN’T ANYBODY ANSWERING ME?”
Pifer started calling hospitals to look for Johnson. They told her they could not provide names and had already notified families of the injured.

“I didn’t want to be notified,” Pifer said. “That was the final word. That would’ve been a change of prayers.”

It was more than 12 hours before she received confirmation of Johnson’s death.

“It was unbearable, and I stopped it… I have a wall up right now, but it’s like a dam,” Pifer said of her emotional block on the trauma.

In a statement, Peraza described Johnson as “an amazing, selfless man” who told her “I got you,” as they huddled under a table, his arm around her.

No surprise to the woman who loved him.

“He would have gone down… he would not have left her to go after anybody, for sure,” Pifer said. “The ‘I got you,’ that’s so Shannon.”

Despite her loss, Pifer said she wanted to see the crime scene.

“I’ve been able to walk under that police tape and just go, ‘This is really strange,'” Pifer said.

She visited a memorial around the corner from the shooting Monday. She said her fellow grief counselors from the city of Los Angeles crisis response team are in the area, helping victims.

Johnson will be buried in Georgia next to his father, who Pifer said also died trying to save a co-worker more than 30 years ago.

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