Exclusive: Sgt. Craig Johnson shares his story after being shot - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Exclusive: Sgt. Craig Johnson shares his story after being shot


WARNING: Some of the story details are graphic and could be disturbing to some viewers.

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The retired Sheriff's Sergeant who was wounded during a shootout with a child molester in Lakeside two years ago broke his silence when he spoke exclusively to CBS News 8, and shared his story.

Craig Johnson shared new body camera video from the day he was shot. The video showed San Diego Sheriff's Deputies who responded to a gun battle with a child molester in Lakeside two years ago.

The suspect was Daniel Witczak and he was armed with a high powered rifle. He shot Sheriff's Detective Ali Perez.

"He kicked the door, he took one step in, he went down," said Johnson.

Sgt. Johnson recalled watching helplessly.

"I put out shots fired, deputy down. Then I was shot. One round went into my chest cavity. It broke my ribs, seven and eight, and then shattered inside in about 25 fragments," he said.

Witczak continued to fire his weapon, and Johnson recalled hearing him racking another magazine.

Perez who was critically injured was able to shoot and injure Witczak, but lost consciousness for a short time. He said he saw Jesus Christ who told him to bless the gunman.

"I looked at the defendant and I said, God bless you brother," said Perez.

Witczak allowed Perez to crawl out to safety, and deputies were able to go in and capture Witczak. He was hand-cuffed after complying with officers.

Witczak pleaded guilty to attempted murder of a peace officer and committing lewd acts on a child. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Johnson said his healing began only after the case closed.

"It was not until a year later that I actually got see all this evidence," he said.

Johnson believes he was struck by only one round that broke apart.

"I took that bullet and I ended up mounting it with me on a cross and I wear that with me every day," he said.

It also graces the cover of his new book, Shots Fired, Deputy Down, which Johnson said he never intended to publish.

It was originally just part of his therapy to overcome severe depression, he said.

"It was a process for me to heal myself from the emotional wound and PTSD. That is why I started writing it," he said.

Johnson decided to share his story, compelled in part by the escalating racial tension nationwide.

He hopes his book helps to honor the 700,000 Peace Officers in the U.S.

"They go out there to help their communities and they don't know if it's going to be their last day, and they're not going to come home to their family," he said.

He thanked his wife Janine, a San Diego Police Officer, his family, friends and community for their support,

Johnson received the Medal of Honor for his actions that day, but he said two letters from school kids thanking him for his service is what he cherishes the most.

Johnson's book, "Shots Fired, Deputy Down," is available on Amazon, and he hopes the book gives others struggling through hard times some hope.

He said he will split any profit with Ali Perez and will donate a portion to the San Diego Deputy Sheriff's Association.

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