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Gary 'hero' credited with saving kids

June 19, 2008 4:21:30 PM PDT
A Gary, Indiana, man is being called a hero Thursday night after witnesses say he put himself in harm's way to protect a group of children. Steven Johnson was critically wounded Tuesday night while shielding the children from gunfire outside an apartment building. Some people hear gunfire and run the other way to get away from it. Some freeze where they are. Steven Johnson heard shots and immediately thought of the children nearby and got them to safety. But in the process he put himself in the way of the shots.

"Stood right in front of me and did this, said 'I have been shot, ' " said Ebony Harper, Johnson's daughter.

Ebony Harper pointed out where she and her father were Tuesday when the gunfire broke out across the parking lot. About a dozen kids were in the area as well, just outside her apartment. When he heard the shots, Steven Johnson immediately went after the kids, trying to get them to safety.

"I call him a hero, because if he hadn't have been there, one of the kids probably would have definitely got shot," said Harper.

Police say four men in a burgundy car were arguing with another man on the other side of the apartment complex when one pulled out a gun and started firing. Barney Gilbert was around the corner.

"I heard some arguing, just as I have been coming to see who was arguing and what was going on. I never made it because the gunshots rang out," Gilbert said.

Gilbert says he heard about a dozen shots. Sheronda Webb heard what happened and immediately worried about the kids.

"This is a kids zone. Now you don't even want your kids to go outside and play because you're scared, because most kids don't know how to react. They will just stand and freeze up and watch," said Webb.

One bullet struck the 54-year-old Johnson in the chest. Paramedics rushed him in critical condition to Methodist Hospital where doctors put him on a respirator. Police say they believe he sacrificed his own safety to save the kids.

"He took it upon himself to be a good Samaritan, a good citizen, a hero, and go out there and move these kids so that they wouldn't be shot," said Commander Sam Roberts, Gary Police.

Steven Johnson has now been upgraded to fair condition. His family says he is alert and talking.

Gary Police are still looking for the man who shot him. They are hoping more witnesses will come forward with information.


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