Shannon Johnson, a 45-year-old Los Angeles man killed in the shooting rampage at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, “loved his co-workers,” including Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the shooters.
So said Johnson’s girlfriend — a member of the Mayor’s Crisis Response Team in Los Angeles.
During a City Hall news conference Friday, Mandy Pifer said that Johnson often expressed warm feelings about his co-workers, including Farook, who worked in the same health inspection department.
Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik — both toting rifles and wearing tactical vests — opened fire on a roomful of people at the center on Wednesday — killing 14 people and wounding 21.
Johnson, who lived with Pifer in Koreatown, worked for nearly 11 years as an environmental health specialist at the San Bernardino County Public Health Department, according to his page on LinkedIn. He graduated from Cal State San Bernardino with a degree in health science in 2004.
“(Johnson) stood for justice, and he loved everyone,” Pifer said. “He loved his co-workers. He loved Syed. He loved Nick and Hal, and everybody.”
Pifer said that Johnson was fond of describing his workplace as “like a United Nations” where “people of all races and religions” worked.
She said Johnson “never said anything about Syed becoming radicalized.”
Pifer also said she is “worried about other people who might not be OK in the future if we don’t start doing something to just curb the people who can’t control their gun use.”
“We’re just all so sick of seeing families get hurt by … senseless violence,” Pifer said. “We should be ashamed of ourselves, because Shannon Johnson is a kind soul.”
Pifer is a 10-year member of the Mayor’s Crisis Response Team, whose volunteers offer residents various forms of assistance, including support for victims and survivors of tragedies and other devastating incidents.
She said she will continue to volunteer and encouraged more Angelenos to join the team.
“It’s important work, and I’m glad to do it,” she said. “And it happened to me.”
Tin Nguyen, 31, of Santa Ana, was also among those who died in Wednesday’s attack. She was a food inspector with the San Bernardino County Public Health Department. Relatives told news outlets that she was born in Vietnam and was engaged to be married.
On Facebook, one of her friends called her “the most amazing person anyone could ever meet.”
“Her heart was bigger than the sun, and her personality was addicting,” her friend wrote.
In Valley Village, a family spokeswoman said Michael Wetzel, 37, of Lake Arrowhead, was an environmental specialist with the county health department and father of six children. Wetzel was in a meeting at the center when the gunfire broke out.
“They are very overwhelmed,” family spokeswoman Celia Behar told ABC7. “There are six kids who have lost their father, and Renee is a stay-at-home mom, so they have also lost all their financial support, and the kids are just finding out.”
A crowdfunding page to help support the Wetzel family was established on the website www.YouCaring.com. As of early afternoon, more than $80,000 had been raised.
The San Bernardino County sheriff’s department identified the other victims as:
- Bennetta Bet-Badal, 46, Rialto
- Aurora Godoy, 26, San Jacinto
- Isaac Amanios, 60, Fontana
- Larry Kaufman, 42, Rialto
- Harry Bowman, 46, Upland
- Yvette Velasco, 27, Fontana
- Sierra Clayborn, 27, Moreno Valley
- Robert Adams, 40, Yucaipa
- Nicholas Thalasinos, 52, Colton
- Juan Espinoza, 50, Highland
- And Damian Meins, 58, Riverside.
—City News Service
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