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 coworker 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, Calif. 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."
Meanwhile, funerals were held Saturday in Southern California for two other victims - Tin Nguyen, 31, and Isaac Amanios, 60.
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. 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. The day before Nguyen was killed, she celebrated her fiancé's 32d birthday.
Nguyen's mother and grandmother, both weeping, followed the casket down the aisle to the altar.
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.
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 he tried to shield her. 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 after the killings.