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Slain sergeant had a lifelong dream to be a policeman

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Courtesy Draper City Sgt. Derek Johnson stands in front of his squad car. Johnson, 32, was shot and killed about 6 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 1.

By Michael McFall aND

ERIN alberty

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Sep 04 2013 09:01PM
Updated Sep 5, 2013 08:55AM

Draper • Ever since Derek Johnson was a boy, he knew he wanted to be a police officer.

Randy Johnson recalled an elementary-school life history his son had drafted.

"In sixth grade, when he put in there the future, he put down either a policeman or a fireman," said Randy Johnson on Wednesday. "He already knew even clear back then what he was going to be."

Derek Johnson, 32, was killed in a shooting Sunday. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the Maverik Center, 3200 S. Decker Lake Drive (2200 West) in West Valley City. A public viewing will be held there Thursday evening from 6 to 9 p.m.

The ceremonies originally were planned to be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center, but they were moved due to other large events to be held in downtown Salt Lake City. Salt Lake Comic Con, which has sold 30,000 tickets, and the Greek Festival, are both planned for Friday.

Johnson’s interment will be at Larkin Sunset Gardens, 1950 E. Dimple Dell Road (10600 South) in Sandy.

The police sergeant spent much of his life in Draper, moving there from Sandy while in middle school. It was during those formative years that he met his wife, Shante.

"They’ve been middle-school sweethearts," Randy Johnson said.

They married in the Salt Lake Temple in 2000, not long after high school graduation. Six years later, they had their son, Bensen, whom Derek Johnson called his "little buddy," according to a memorial website set up by his family. People can donate through the site to support the fallen officer’s widow and son.

Johnson had a good nature, "a sense of humor that could light up any room, attention to detail and the ability to make anyone his friend," the website states. "He made a difference. He loved his family, hunting, running, hiking and giving service. He was always up for a good challenge."

Johnson was shot to death Sunday morning as he drove up to a silver Volvo parked at an odd angle on a Draper city street.

Police suspect Timothy T. Walker, 35, who was with the vehicle, shot Johnson, as well as Traci Vaillancourt, 34, before turning the gun on himself. Walker and Vaillancourt remain in critical condition at a hospital.

Unified police have searched the Volvo, and identified and collected evidence from it, but nothing that establishes a clear motive, said Lt. Justin Hoyal. Investigators have said the car is not stolen; Victoria King, Vaillancourt’s sister, said a friend sold the car to the couple.

Vaillancourt and Walker have known each other since childhood and have been a couple for several years, King said. They have a 5-year-old daughter; Walker’s mother has custody of the girl, according to court documents.

Walker and Vaillancourt both have criminal histories; King said Walker told her that he had been the victim of a drug-related shooting as a teenager.

mmcfall@sltrib.com" target="_blank">class="TEXT_no_Indent">mmcfall@sltrib.com

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Twitter: @erinalberty

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