A survivor of Wednesday’s mass shooting in San Bernardino says it was the selfless acts of coworker that saved her life.
“I got you,” Shannon Johnson told Denise Peraza as he held her while two shooters unleashed 65 to 75 rounds on unsuspecting attendees at a work event in the Inland Regional Center.
Johnson did not survive the attack, but tried to shield Peraza, a 27-year-old newlywed — according to a Washington Post report — from the bullets.
Peraza recounted the events that unfolded that morning in a news release on Friday.
Just minutes before the chaos began, Peraza said she joked with Johnson about how a clock on the wall might be broken because time was moving so slowly.
“I would have never guessed that only five minutes later, we would be huddled next to each other under that same table, using a fallen chair as a shield from over 60 rounds of bullets being fired across the room,” she said.
Peraza could not remember every detail of what unfolded, but recalled how Johnson wrapped his left arm around her and held her “as close as possible.”
She was struck in the back during the shooting, but survived.
“A lot of people are dead. Somehow I’m alive,” she told her sister during a phone call once the gunfire ceased.
Days later, Peraza was recovering from her injuries at home with her family, her husband Augusto told CNN, and she says she credits Johnson with saving her life.
“I believe I am still here today because of this amazing man,” she said. “This amazing, selfless man who always brought a smile to everyone’s face in the office with his lively stories about his hometown back in Georgia.”
“This is my Shannon Johnson, who will be deeply missed by all. … My friend, my hero.”
Johnson’s heroism likely did not surprise his girlfriend of three years, according to CNN.
The couple had previous discussed what he would do in such an event, and Mandy Pifer — a “longtime member” of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Crisis Response Team — said he thought he might attempt to rush the shooter.
“He was not afraid to die,” Pifer told CNN.
On Wednesday, Johnson, along with 13 others, were gunned down by either Syed Farook or his wife Tasheen Malik.
Farook, who also worked with Johnson, was liked by the man he would eventually open fire on, CNN reports.
“Shannon would talk to him and just let him know that if anybody is disrespecting your religion — eff them,” Pifer remembered.
The motive behind the attack was not known as of Saturday, a day after the FBI said it was being investigated as an act of terrorism.