- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 27, 2002

About 2,000 people yesterday celebrated the life of a Montgomery County bus driver who was the last victim in a series of random sniper attacks that shook the metropolitan area for three weeks.
Gathered at Glendale Baptist Church in Landover, mourners recalled the life of Conrad E. Johnson, 35, and expressed relief that two suspects have been arrested in the sniper rampage.
"Here I am today, and I'm finally able to say, 'We caught him,'" said a tearful Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan. "We caught him for you. We caught him for Conrad. We caught him so he can never, ever do this to anyone else again."
Family and friends hailed Mr. Johnson as a loving husband and father who could come up with a practical joke just as quickly as he could come up with an extra hand to help someone in a pinch.
During the funeral, a speaker read notes submitted by acquaintances of Mr. Johnson's.
One person wrote that Mr. Johnson called his wife on her birthday and had all of his passengers sing "Happy Birthday" to her.
A woman who didn't even know the family wrote to thank him for letting her children and others hop on his bus to keep warm while they waited for their school bus.
"Passengers were crying, weeping when they got on the bus that day," Mr. Duncan said of the day after Mr. Johnson's death on Tuesday.
Howard Henry, a cousin, said he called Mr. Johnson days before his death to tell him he loved him and to be wary of the sniper. Mr. Johnson, who was born in Kingston, Jamaica, said wouldn't change his lifestyle and give in to fear.
Mr. Henry said the family feels no wrath and is praying for the men who gunned down his cousin. He added that his family has met with the families of other victims and hopes to continue communicating with them.
"We're glad that ours is the last. Thank God for that," Mr. Henry said.
Whether the people convicted for Mr. Johnson and nine others' deaths are executed is "up to the laws of the land," he said.
A sniper targeted Mr. Johnson about 6 a.m. Tuesday in Aspen Hill, just before his first passenger would have stepped on board. He was standing on the top step when a bullet struck his abdomen. He died at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.
The shooting was just two blocks from where the sniper's first shot was fired into a store window nearly three weeks earlier.
Bus drivers representing about 14 transit systems and coming from as far as Indiana traveled in a bus processional to the church. They held their hands over their hearts as Mr. Johnson's large extended family entered.
Among the mourners yesterday were Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry, Prince George's County prosecutor Jack Johnson and other public officials, as well as Charles-Auguste Charlot, cousin of the sixth sniper victim, Pascal Charlot.
Ride-On Bus General Manager Carolyn Biggins told the Associated Press that the company has established a memorial fund in Mr. Johnson's honor and is considering renaming one of its transit centers after the 10-year employee .
Donations may be sent to the Conrad E. Johnson Trust Fund, PO Box 168, Mitchellville, Md. 20721.


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