San Bernardino

Grieving Girlfriend of San Bernardino Shooting Victim Is Trained Crisis Responder

A member of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's Crisis Response Team, trained to comfort families of victims in times of tragedy, was never trained to handle a tragedy herself.

But Mandy Pifer's boyfriend, health inspector Shannon Johnson, was one of the 14 killed in San Bernardino on Tuesday.

"My name is Mandy Pifer, and Shannon Johnson was my best friend," Pifer told NBC Los Angeles, before breaking into tears.

Pifer has volunteered on the Crisis Response Team for 10 years. After tragedies, it's her job to console victims. And even in her moment of mourning, Pifer is still doing her job, sending prayers to the other 13 families sharing in her grief.

"It's important work," Pifer said. "I'm glad I do it, and it happened to me so ..."

Pifer spoke about Johnson, saying he would often finish work early, sticking around the office to make small talk with his co-workers, including suspected shooter Syed Rizwan Farook.

According to another colleague, Johnson acted like a hero during the shooting. Denise Peraza said he used a chair to shield her from a hail of bullets.

"I will always remember his left arm wrapped around me, holding me as close as possible next to him behind that chair," she wrote on Facebook, having survived a gunshot wound to her stomach. "And amidst all the chaos, I'll always remember him saying these three words, 'I got you.'"

Johnson had a similarly upbeat attitude about religion as well, according to Pifer. She said Johnson was a fan of saying that whatever religion you have, be the best at it.

"Shannon said it was like a little United Nations in their department," Pifer commented. "People of all religions and races worked with him." 

Contact Us