Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News
Local family members of a security guard fatally shot at the national Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C., are preparing to attend his funeral Friday thanks to some help from U.S. Rep. John Conyers.
Conyers has donated nine airline tickets to the family of Stephen Johns, 39, of Temple Hills, Md., who was killed on the job June 10 when he opened the door for an elderly man armed with a rifle.
Vince Johns of Auburn Hills, who is Stephen Johns' cousin, said the nine tickets will take care of Vince Johns' mother, four sisters and other family members. Now he's trying to find a way to get plane tickets for himself; his wife, Veronica; his aunt Gloria Johns; and four more cousins from Michigan.
Vince Johns says his cousin Stephen had planned to visit Michigan over the upcoming Labor Day weekend. Vince and Stephen were the only sons born to their fathers, and they forged a special bond, more like brothers, when they were growing up, he said.
"Steve really loved Detroit, and he was excited about coming back," said Vince Johns, 33. "The last time he was in Detroit was in October when we celebrated my mom's 70th birthday."
Vince Johns already drove to Washington, as soon as he learned about the slaying, to help identify his cousin's body.
Johns said family in the Washington, D.C., area received numerous calls from U.S. congressmen offering condolences. "They also asked if there's something they could do to help, and a family member mentioned that Detroit relatives could use help getting to the funeral, and that's when Rep. Conyers heard about it and offered the nine plane tickets."
Johns said admired his cousin and wanted to emulate him.
"He became a security guard, and I wanted to go to Washington, D.C., and also work in security," said Johns. "But my wife had some concerns for my safety, and I respected that, so I chose another career."
Stephen Johns' funeral will be held Friday at Ebenezer AME Church in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum will close to allow employees to attend.