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Puyallup neighbors begin healing process after tragic shooting death

Family, neighbors and friends pitched in over the weekend to help finish remodeling the rental property Richard Johnson was working on when he was tragically shot dead in Puyallup a month ago. At left is his widow, Sally, their daughter Julie Miller (in black), and Julie’s children Mackenzie (with hammer), Kyle and Gavin (also in black).
Family, neighbors and friends pitched in over the weekend to help finish remodeling the rental property Richard Johnson was working on when he was tragically shot dead in Puyallup a month ago. At left is his widow, Sally, their daughter Julie Miller (in black), and Julie’s children Mackenzie (with hammer), Kyle and Gavin (also in black). Staff photographer

A month after a shooting rampage in a quiet Puyallup neighborhood left one man dead, neighbors came together to heal and move forward.

They met at the rental home of Richard and Sally Johnson.

It was there that 71-year-old Richard Johnson lost his life after a Tacoma man went on a shooting spree through the neighborhood on Aug. 11.

Richard Johnson was working on the house when Nathan Terault shot him. Terault, 34, went on to shoot other homes and at people and police in the southwestern Puyallup neighborhood.

A Puyallup officer ultimately hit Terault with a car and he was arrested. He remains in jail.

Exposed to the elements, the partially remodeled home has sat untouched since Richard Johnson’s death.

Wanting to help Sally Johnson, Puyallup resident Dan Smith organized a series of work parties to finish the exterior before the weather permanently turns wet.

The first effort was over the weekend. The next work party is set for Sept. 19-20.

“We’re trying to get her closed in and dry for winter,” Smith said. “Hopefully, getting some siding and paint will give a fresh outlook on things.”

Smith worked as a general contractor for 25 years. He teaches construction, green building and sustainability at Clover Park Technical College.

Smith wanted to help a neighbor he never met.

“I had been driving up and down 14th Street for years enjoying the work,” Smith said of Richard Johnson’s remodel. “He was doing beautiful work.”

After the shooting, Smith learned that Sally Johnson taught his children at Puyallup Playcare Center.

“I just felt a need to help out,” he said.

He wasn’t alone. Others eager to volunteer time and sweat joined Smith to hang siding and trim over the weekend.

“We wanted to pay it forward,” said Edgewood resident Christi Yearsley.

Yearsley worked with Sally Johnson at Puyallup Playcare.

“He was a kick in the pants,” Yearsley said of Richard Johnson. “His smile was just infectious.”

Helping was “one more step in the healing process” for Kathleen Barrera.

Barrera lives across the street. Her house was also hit by gunfire. She was home with her daughter and her daughter’s friend at the time.

“This is letting good win and not evil,” she said. “It feels good and very healing to be doing something positive in the name of Rich, but for Sally.”

Puyallup Police Chief Bryan Jeter traded his uniform for a baseball hat and tool belt Saturday.

The shootings and Johnson’s death are still fresh in the minds of the shaken community, Jeter said.

“I think it’s great everybody is pitching in and helping out,” he said. “I can’t think of a more worthy cause.”

While crews worked on her house, Sally Johnson quietly walked around the yard, helping with other projects.

“I’m very grateful they have come together like this,” said Richard Johnson’s wife of 50 years. “It’s a nice community gesture.”

Admitting she’s not one for words, Sally Johnson said she was thankful to have the house one step closer to completion.

“It will help me move on, move forward,” she said.

How to help:

To learn more about the Sept. 19-20 work party, or other ways to help, visit the Richard Johnson Memorial Facebook page at facebook.com/RichardJohnsonMemorialRemodel2015?fref=ts

A GoFundMe account has also been created. Details at: gofundme.com/7k23gn2s

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