‘He died a hero’: Friends and family hold vigil for ODU student Paul Johnson

Posted at 9:09 AM, Feb 26, 2014

Intelligent, kind, witty, and humble were just a few of the words friends and family used to describe 20-year-old ODU sophomore Paul Johnson.

"I loved him so much, more than I could even tell you," says Dan Johnson, Paul’s brother and close friend.

Early Sunday morning, Johnson, a math major at ODU, was brutally attacked less than a block from his apartment on 48th street. He later died at the hospital.

The suspects, David Grimm Jr., 21, and Christopher Johnson, 20, have both been arrested.

Johnson turned himself in to the Norfolk Police Department and has been charged with misdemeanor assault. He was released around 4:30 a.m. Monday morning on a $1,500 secured bond.

Grimm was arrested by the Prince William County Police Department and is being charged with 2nd degree murder. He is currently going through the booking process.

Wednesday night on campus, students packed together in the cold, with candles lit in memory and celebration of their friend.

"He had this unique sense of sarcasm and whit that will never be replicated. He would always use these stupid, silly phrases that were just hilarious,” says Joey Thiel, a friend of Paul Johnson’s, who organized a vigil on campus.

His fun-loving personality won't soon be forgotten. Paul's last good deed was donating his organs.

"He died a hero,” Thiel says. “While Paul will always be in our hearts and minds, he has also enabled others to live in his stead."

A memorial service for Paul will be held Friday morning in Northern Virginia. Christopher Johnson is scheduled to be in court for his arraignment in Norfolk Thursday morning.

The family of Paul Johnson has released the following statement:

"Paul was one of the cast of characters in our family, and we love each of them for who they are. We have always enjoyed every opportunity to share in their lives. Like a lot of other college kids, Paul was hard working and trying to pay his way through school. He was full of hopes and dreams and great expectations, and he had the ability to realize those dreams. As parents, we were very happy with the direction of Paul's life had taken at Old Dominion.

We really appreciate all of the people who cared enough to step forward and help identify the the two suspects, and we also appreciate how ODU and Norfolk Police briefed us every step of the way. We had no doubt there would be arrests in short order.

We underestimated what Paul meant to his friends, and the sincere compassion and outpouring from the student community was exponentially larger than anything I ever expected. This an international community, particularly where Paul lived and everyone who has come up to us and talked have genuinely cared about Paul, not just some appearance. I am so glad Paul had a chance to experience this environment."

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