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Friends, family remember

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Published on: Thursday, September 19, 2013

By Donna Broadway

WASHINGTON, D.C.- Two Montgomery County families are grieving after a gunman opened fire in Building 197 at the Navy Yard in southeast D.C. John Roger Johnson, 73, of Derwood, Md., and Vishnu Pandit, 61, of North Potomac, Md., were among the 12 killed on Sept. 16, 2013. The gunman, Aaron Alexis, was a part-time Navy contractor who worked in the building. Law officials say Alexis suffered from paranoia and called police in August 2013 saying he thought voices were using a microwave machine to communicate with him.

Johnson, nicknamed J.J., was the oldest victim and was set to celebrate his 74th birthday in October. He had four daughters, four stepchildren, ten grandchildren and was expecting another one in November. Johnson worked as a logistics analyst at Navy Yard and was a civilian contactor.

His family said he was a positive, hardworking person who never said a bad word about anyone and would have forgiven Alexis if he had the chance.

“My husband was a very wonderful man. He was always happy, always positive and never had a bad thing to say about anybody. He loved the world. He loved life, he loved his faith and was proud to be an American and I am so shocked and stunned… He was a great father, a great friend, a great grandfather, an awesome human being and I loved him very much,” said Judy Johnson, John Johnson’s wife of eight years.

Judy and John Johnson were married for eight years and John Johnson lived in Derwood for over 40 years. Judy Johnson said John Johnson always left for work at 3:55 a.m. and kissed her goodbye, saying, “Bye, beautiful.” She last spoke to John Johnson shortly before 8 p.m. The family realized Johnson was one of the victims after the last bus emptied out of evacuees and the Red Cross began to leave. They were told by the FBI and Metropolitan Police Department that Johnson did not make it.

The family said they do not know the details of Johnson’s death. They said it was in Johnson’s character to try to talk to the shooter out of the assault or die trying to save someone. The family said they do not harbor any ill will against Alexis or his family.

Pandit was a native of Mumbai, India, who attended Calcutta University and immigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s.

Pandit also has a second bachelor’s degree in marine engineering from University of Michigan and a master’s degree. He worked for the Navy for 30 years as a contractor.

Pandit’s friends and family describe him as generous and very kind. Officials say he died from a gunshot to the head.

"I'm deeply shocked and saddened by the shooting at the Navy Yard. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families," said Ray Mabus, U.S. Secretary of the Navy.

Cathleen Alexis, the mother of Aaron Alexis, released a statement apologizing for her son’s actions.

"Our son, Aaron Alexis, has murdered 12 people and wounded several others. His actions have had a profound and everlasting effect on the families of the victims. I don't know why he did what he did. And I'll never be able to ask him why. Aaron is now in a place where he can no longer do harm to anyone. And for that I am glad. To the families of the victims, I'm so, so very sorry this has happened. My heart is broken,” Cathleen Alexis said.

The other victims are Michael Arnold, 59, of Lorton, Va.; Kathy Gaarde, 62, of Woodbridge, Va.; Arthur Daniels, 51, of southeast Washington, D.C.; Richard Michael Ridgell, 52, of Westminster, Md.; Martin Bodrog, 54, of Annandale, Va.; Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46, of Waldorf, Md.; Gerald L. Read, 58, of Alexandria, Va.; Sylvia Frasier, 53, of Waldorf, Md.; and Frank Kohler, 50, of Tall Timbers, Md. Alexis was killed in a gun battle with police

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