Sydney siege: Parents of cafe manager Tori Johnson say they are proud of their beautiful boy

Tori Johnson, one of the two victims killed during Monday's 16-hour siege at a cafe in Sydney. The 34-year-old manager of the Lindt Chocolat Cafe was shot while trying to grab the gunman's weapon. -- PHOTO: TWITTER
Tori Johnson, one of the two victims killed during Monday's 16-hour siege at a cafe in Sydney. The 34-year-old manager of the Lindt Chocolat Cafe was shot while trying to grab the gunman's weapon. -- PHOTO: TWITTER

Tori Johnson, one of the two victims killed during Monday's 16-hour siege at a cafe in Sydney, had attempted to wrestle the gun from the gunman.

At prayer service led by Archbishop Anthony Fisher on Tuesday, both Johnson and second victim Katrina Dawson were hailed as heroes, reports AFP. The service was held at St. Mary's Cathedral about 500 metres from the cafe.

"Reports have emerged this morning of the heroism of the male victim of this siege," Archbishop Fisher said.

"Apparently seeing an opportunity Tori Johnson grabbed the gun, tragically it went off killing him. But it triggered the response of the police and eventual freedom for most of the hostages."

The New South Wales Police Department did not confirm reports of Mr Johnson's tussle with the gunman, adding that investigators were still compiling the chain of events that led to the siege ending.

In a statement made to the Sydney Morning Herald, Johnson's parents said, "We are so proud of our beautiful boy Tori, gone from this earth but forever in our memories as the most amazing life partner, son and brother we could ever wish for,"

The 34-year-old manager of the Lindt Chocolat Cafe was shot while trying to grab the gunman's weapon, sources told Australian media. Multiple sources have told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that Mr Johnson tried to grab the gunman's weapon when he appeared to be falling asleep.

Authorities have yet to confirm whether he and another victim, barrister Katrina Dawson, were shot by the gunman or killed in crossfire.

Mr Peter Manettas, who had worked with Mr Johnson for nearly seven years, told The Australian that Mr Johnson was a selfless leader.

"He put everyone else first. Anyone who has that inside him, it does not surprise me if he acted in such a way. He was a complete professional, a rare person in this industry. He was extremely ambitious but at the same time he was humble, a gentleman and never took praise himself."

"He was a dedicated professional who always built a great rapport with his customers and was much loved by the Lindt team. By nature he was a perfectionist and he had a genuine passion for the hospitality industry and people."

Mr Johnson attended Washington State University where he studied hospitality business management and worked all over the world, including in the Maldives.

In a statement posted on the Lindt Australia Facebook page, CEO Stephen Loane said, "Tori had been with us at Lindt for just over two years and he was a great ambassador for our company and the store that he managed, which he cared about passionately."

Mr Johnson's parents also sent their condolences to Ms Dawson's family.

They also thanked friends, family and the people of Sydney, Australia and those around the world for reaching out with their thoughts and prayers.

After thanking the NSW police, armed forces and paramedics for their tireless efforts, Mr Johnson's parents ended their statement with a call for peace.

"Let us all pray for peace on earth."

melheng@sph.com.sg