Niece of gunman: Our family considers fallen officer Michael Johnson our hero

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - Friends and community members packed the hill and sidewalk at the location where San Jose Police Officer Michael Johnson was shot and killed Tuesday night.

As mourners sang ‘Amazing Grace' it became clear that grace comes in many forms.

"We are sorry for the loss of the officer," said Amber Golart. She's the niece of Scott Dunham the man who shot and killed Officer Johnson. Dunham's family stood with the crowd of people paying their respects.

"As a family we feel like we are caught in the middle. You know we're mourning for the loss of the officer and we're mourning for the loss of our uncle," said Golart.

Two men whose paths crossed on a day when mental illness took over, says Golart. She said Dunham struggled with COPD, alcoholism, and depression. A fight with his wife brought Officer Johnson to the couple's apartment along Senter Road.

"My aunt does consider Michael Johnson her hero. The family considers him our hero," said Golart.

Johnson's friends remember his grace.

"I just can't stress enough how nice of a person he was to everyone," said Aida Santilla.

People who live in the neighborhood and the officers who worked beside him carry on with grace.

"It's still raw for all of us," said Chief Larry Esquivel.

San Jose is a community united by loss.

"It's incredible. I mean it's very sincere. These people are here because they care," said Esquivel.

A community grateful for those who serve as people lined up to shake the hands of officers in attendance.

"Seeing all these officers it's breath taking you know," said Martha Torres, neighbor.

In the distance of it all, a family grieving the loss of two men: an officer and the man who killed him.

"On a normal basis in his right mind… he was a great man. He was funny, he was loving," said Golart.

She hopes for grace in the form of compassion and says her uncle received treatment for his mental illness. The family tried to intervene, but in her opinion he committed suicide by cop.


San Jose resident Wolve Cevorov was in the audience, holding a blue light representing law enforcement. He said he met officer Johnson more than a decade ago while working for a tow company.

"(He) had the golden heart," said Cevorov. "It takes a special person to put on a badge."

"We live in this community, and our police officers make the difference in our quality of life and us being safe and able to walk the streets in our communities," said Evelyn Robinson, who lives in downtown San Jose. "They do a job most of us would never ever do, and because of them we're safe."


It was organized by the Star of David Ministries and the MLK Association of the Santa Clara Valley, the vigil honored fallen officer Michael Johnson and recognized all police officers who serve the community.