Shannon Hilliard Johnson, 45, of Los Angeles, CA was killed Wednesday in the tragic incident in San Bernadino, CA while he and his fellow employees were attending a Christmas party. He died heroically as he acted as a shield for a fellow employee who survived the violent massacre of 14 people. He will be remembered throughout America for his statement “I got you” as he covered her body from the gunfire of the assailants. According to family, friends and fellow employees, he selflessly gave to all with whom he had contact. He was an outstanding high school baseball and football player. After graduating from Windsor Academy in Macon, GA, he signed a baseball scholarship to Middle Georgia Junior College and eventually played for Augusta College in Augusta, GA. In 2004, he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science from Cal State University of San Bernadino. He had plans of pursuing his doctorate in the same area. In 2005, he went to work for San Bernadino County as an Environmental Health Specialist where he remained employed until the time of his death. Shannon was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Robert L. Hilliard Jr. and Dorothy D. Hilliard; paternal grandfather, Joseph Frank Johnson; father, Robert “Bobby” Franklin Johnson; uncle, Robert “Bobby” L. Hilliard III.
Memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, December 12, 2015 at Calvary Baptist Church with Rev. Ed Bacon and Rev. Vann Dempsey officiating. Private interment services will be held by the family at a later date in Jesup City Cemetery.
Visitation will be held from 10:00 to 11:00 prior to service at the church.
Obituary provided by Contributor #47086979∼By The Associated Press
JESUP, Ga. — 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.
The 45-year-old health inspector from Los Angeles received a hero's funeral Saturday in his home state of Georgia 10 days after he died during the massacre in San Bernardino, California. 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.
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."
"Shannon's fearless. He's always been that way," Rob Johnson, the slain man'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 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.
The Rev. 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.
Johnson was just 8 years old, and his father's death affected him deeply. As a boy, Bacon said, Johnson would sometimes slip away from home and spend the night at his dad's grave.
"He learned from his father's death that no one has greater love than this — to give your life for your friends," Bacon said.
Johnson was sitting next to 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. Peraza says she and Johnson sought cover beneath a table when he tried to shield her. Johnson was among 14 people killed in the attack. Peraza was shot in the back, but survived.
"I believe I am still here today because of this amazing man," Peraza said in a statement soon after the killings.
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.
As a young adult, his love of nature — and loud music — led Johnson to live in an isolated cabin in the Georgia woods. Then he fell in love and followed the woman to California, Johnson's brother recalled, with no job and nowhere to live.
"Shannon's fearless. He's always been that way."
Johnson settled in Los Angeles. 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. Then he helped first responders dig a trench to protect the church.
Though he lived far away, Johnson kept his family as close to him as possible.
The walls of his Koreatown apartment were lined with framed photos, Bacon said. 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.
"It's just kind of what our family does," she said. "We save people."
YOUR LOVE WILL LIGHT OUR WAY
YOUR MEMORY WILL EVER BE WITH US
"I GOT YOU"
BELOVED SON OF
ROBERT FRANKLIN JOHNSON
AND BARBARA HILLIARD POLLARD
GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN THAN THIS
THAT A MAN LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR
Robert Franklin Johnson