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 the massacre in San Bernardino, California. Funerals also were held in Southern California for two other victims – Tin Nguyen, 31, and Isaac Amanios, 60.

One of Johnson’s colleagues wounded in the attack, Denise Peraza, said he wrapped an arm around her as bullets flew and assured her: “I got you.”

Those would be his last words.

Johnson was sitting next to Peraza at a holiday luncheon for San Bernardino County environmental health employees on Dec. 2 when Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and Tashfeen Malik, 29, opened fire. Peraza says she and Johnson sought cover beneath a table. Johnson was among 14 people killed. 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.

Inside Calvary Baptist Church in the rural city of Jesup, where Johnson was born 2,300 miles from the auditorium in which he 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, said.

The Rev. Ed Bacon noted Johnson’s selfless final act echoed that of his father, who died while saving another man during an accident at a Kentucky paper mill in 1978.

When wildfires raged in Southern California years ago, his brother said, Johnson rounded up stray pets in his pickup and took them to a church for shelter. Then he helped first responders dig a trench to protect the church.


Nguyen was remembered in a service conducted in Vietnamese at St. Barbara’s Catholic Church in Santa Ana. Born in Vietnam, Nguyen was 8 when her family left that country for the United States.

Her fiance carried a large portrait of Nguyen into the church as members of the standing-room only crowd reached out to touch it. The couple had planned to marry in 2017 .

Nguyen’s mother and grandmother, both weeping, followed the casket to the altar.

A cousin took a moment in English to thank first responders, local politicians and Nguyen’s co-workers at the San Bernardino County health department.

In the days after the shooting, businesses that she inspected posted online tributes.


Meanwhile friends and family of Amanios filled St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church in Colton, California. His wife waved her arms in front of a portrait of Amanios set up next to his casket as their three adult children looked on.

Amanios was a supervising environmental health specialist for San Bernardino County. He fought in Eritrea’s war for independence and believed the U.S. was a refuge from violence and fear.

Amanios was cousins with NFL player Nat Berhe, who plays for the New York Giants.