A grandfather tragically lost his life while successfully shielding his wife and granddaughter from a barrage of bullets inside an El Paso, Texas Walmart this weekend.
David Johnson, 63, was one of 22 victims killed at the Walmart on Saturday, August 3. Dozens more were injured after a gunman opened fire at the crowded store Saturday morning, reports the New York Times. Johnson’s wife and grandchild survived.
The suspected shooter allegedly authored a hate-filled, racist manifesto prior to the attack and has been booked on capital murder charges.
Dominic Patridge, who has identified himself as Johnson’s nephew, wrote on Facebook that his relative “gave the ultimate sacrifice to insure [sic] the safety of his family.”
“His last words directing my aunt to ‘Run towards Sams if something were to happen to him’ before being gunned down by a coward speaks volumes of the bravery he never once had to boast about, but instead lived everyday of his life,” he wrote.
He added that Johnson will “ forever be honored as a true hero.”
Maria Mia Madera, who has identified herself on Facebook as Johnson’s niece, also credits him for saving the lives of his wife and grandchild.
“He was surrounded by 3 gun shells. That could have been 1 each for him, my aunt, and my niece,” Madera wrote. “He protected them from that murderer. And worked as a shield. If he hadn’t have been there they wouldn’t have made it.”
Johnson’s brave actions weren’t the only moments of heroism during the horrific attack.
Husband and wife Andre Anchondo, 24, and Jordan Anchondo, 25, died while shielding their 2-month-old son. Juan de Dios Velazquez, 77, was also shot protecting his wife, Estela Nicolasa, 65. While Nicolasa was still shot and injured, it was to a lesser extent. Both Velazquez and Nicolasa survived and Nicolasa is now in stable condition.
The shooting suspect reportedly spewed angry anti-immigration language in his manifesto. El Paso, on the U.S.-Mexico border, is a majority Latinx community. Investigators are treating the shooting as a case of domestic terrorism.
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