- The Washington Times - Friday, June 19, 2009

Hundreds of mourners gathered at Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington on Friday morning to pay their respects to Holocaust Memorial Museum security officer Stephen T. Johns.

They came by the busloads, arriving as early as 7:30 a.m. for the 9 a.m. viewing. By 11 a.m., when the funeral service began the church was filled with hundreds of friends, family members, colleagues and strangers who just wished to pay their respects to the slain officer.

Mr. Johns’ casket was stationed at the front of the 3,000-seat church for the viewing. He was dressed in a tan suit. A line as long as a city block formed in front of the church when busloads of museum workers arrived at the church for the viewing at about 10 a.m. Several colleagues lightly tapped the coffin with their knuckles as they passed.

Rico Robinson, a colleague, said of Mr. Johns was the type of person everybody liked.

“He was a great guy, real lovable. He was such a gentle man. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. To have something like this happen is unconscionable.”

The invocation was delivered by Rev. Clinton Austin, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Southeast, where services were initially scheduled to be held before they moved to accommodate the large number of people expected for the services.

The eulogy was delivered by the Rev. John L. McCoy, senior pastor of the Word of God Baptist Church in the District.

Moniquea Smith, a family friend, delivered the obituary, which included remembrances from family members.

“Stephen was a warm, gentle and calm person,” she said. “He was a great listener, loved to entertain people or be a part of any celebration — so full of love, he was very respectful to all, no matter who was present. Some people referred to him as the ‘gentle giant.’”

Condolence letters from D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier and Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin were read from the pulpit. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was among those in attendance. An honor guard of officers from local police agencies carried the casket from the church at about 1:15 p.m., when the services ended.

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