'Kind of goofy': Friends recall Dallas gunman's personality

AP News
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Posted: Jul 15, 2016 1:27 PM
'Kind of goofy': Friends recall Dallas gunman's personality

DALLAS (AP) — People who knew Micah Johnson before the former Army reservist opened fire at a Dallas protest describe a relaxed young man with a silly sense of humor who made friends easily. The Johnson they remember was chatty and helpful and liked to talk about politics. A few of their stories:

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STANLEE WASHINGTON, 25, WHO CONSIDERED JOHNSON A CLOSE FRIEND SINCE HIGH SCHOOL:

"He was the goofy guy. He always had something funny to say. He didn't have a care in the world," Washington said. "He was generally worried about everyone in the world."

Johnson was a happy young man who cared deeply about friends and family, especially his younger brother, who had autism, Washington said.

The last time they saw each another was before Johnson deployed to Afghanistan in 2013, when Johnson called to say goodbye and to ask about Washington's daughter, said Washington, who now lives in California.

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LATISHA BOYD, 22, WHO WAS IN JUNIOR ROTC IN HIGH SCHOOL WITH JOHNSON:

"He was really friendly and talkative. He was playful. But when he came to ROTC he was very serious. I wasn't really into it, but he was. If I had a problem or needed help with an exercise, he's the one I'd go to," she said.

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JAKE HUNT, 25, WHO SAID JOHNSON WAS ONE OF THE FIRST FRIENDS HE MADE AFTER TRANSFERRING TO JOHN HORN HIGH SCHOOL:

"He always had a smile on his face. He knew how to make you laugh," Hunt said. "We'd go eat and play pickup basketball on the weekends, stuff like that."

"We weren't big partiers. We just hung out with each other. We talked about everything. But politics — not at all. He was political. We weren't. He'd try to talk politics, but we weren't having none of that. If something happened in the news, he'd try and talk about it. But we tried to stay away from it, not focus on the anger. Focus on happier stuff."

Hunt said the Johnson he saw on the news wasn't the same person he knew from school.

"He was a good person," Hunt said. "I don't know what was going through his head when he did that, but he wasn't always like this."

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JUSTIN GARNER, 25, WHO WAS FRIENDS WITH JOHNSON SINCE HIGH SCHOOL AND SERVED WITH HIM IN THE SAME ARMY RESERVE UNIT:

"I loved him to death, but that guy was not really a good soldier. There were certain technical skills you need as a soldier that he was lacking, like shooting, if you can believe it."

"About race, he never talked about it," said Garner, who is white. "We are taught that we are all the same color — green. So I feel like it had nothing to do with race at that time, because in the Army that camaraderie of the brotherhood was a lot stronger than skin color could ever define."

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RETIRED SGT. GILBERT FISCHBACH, 45, JOHNSON'S SQUAD LEADER IN THE 284TH ENGINEER COMPANY:

"He was kind of goofy. He would joke around," Fischbach said. "He was somebody that most people enjoyed being around."

Johnson acted deliberately klutzy sometimes to get attention and "never expressed any kind of racial dissension," he added. "He was in many ways your typical average soldier for the reserves. He didn't excel at anything. It didn't mean he wasn't good at anything. He was a team member."

He said it was hard "to see that somebody that you worked with to make them proficient in certain skill sets, to see that they somehow, some time later on, decide to use that for some other evil plan."