Jarret Romanello, The St. Lucie Post
May 11, 2021
On April 23, 1987, a massacre in Palm Bay, Florida, left 14 injured and six dead, including police officers Gerald Johnson and Ronald Grogan. Officers Johnson & Grogan had less than a year on the force when they tried to rescue hostages at a supermarket during the rampage when a gunman fatally shot them.
Every year the Palm Bay Police Department holds a memorial to honor the officers and community members that died that day. “It keeps their memory alive, and that is our commitment to the officers and certainly their family and this community,” says Palm Bay Police Chief Nelson Moya.
Vi Johnson, 84, of Mayo, Fl remembers her son always wanting to be a police officer when he was a little boy. “He loved to wear a uniform and help others,” Vi recalls. Gerald Johnson served in the United States Army and as a Corrections Officer before joining the Palm Bay Police Department.
His killer died of natural causes on death row in 2009, never showing any sign of remorse. “You’ve got to have God on your side, or you won’t make it through something like this,” Vi says.
When she questions why her son was killed protecting others, she finds comfort in remembering that God’s son died for her. “The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is forgive that man for killing my son.”