By Heather Janssen

CITRUS HEIGHTS (CBS13) – A family is in mourning and grieving the loss of their loved one, after a man from Sacramento was shot and killed by Idaho police earlier this month. Though the department admits, Joseph Johnson was shot by mistake.

Family and friends gathered at the Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights, the place where Johnson reportedly met his wife long before they moved to Idaho Falls together.

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Loved ones lit up the sky with lanterns for the man that brightened up their lives.

“He was a very respectful – hardworking family man,” said Patricia Sanford, Johnson’s aunt.

Johnson was shot and killed by police in Idaho Falls by mistake – as he stood in his backyard, armed, while police searched the neighborhood for a suspect.

“All he was doing was protecting his family – and he got shot. It’s just not right,’ Chuck Johnson, his father, said. “I’m heartbroken … and I’m angry.”

His father clutches onto his most prized possession throughout the memorial, a handwritten Father’s Day gift from 1989.

“My house catches on fire – this is what’s going with me,” he said.

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Across a table, pictures of Johnson as he grew up in Sacramento were scattered across a board for loved ones to sign. Johnson’s smile is described as contagious.

“You could tell by the look on his face – he was in love,” Sanford said.

The hurt of this loss felt across the family, and also by Idaho Falls Police – who admit their officer shot and killed the wrong man.

“There’s not words to express how heavy our hearts are,” Idaho Falls Police Chief Bryce Johnson said in a press conference earlier this month. “This situation is devastating and tragic for all involved. It’s tragic for the deceased and his family and everyone that was involved.”

The family is left wondering how this tragedy can happen, but say if there’s one thing they know to be true – it’s this.

“My nephew died a hero,” Sanford said.

Heartbroken and healing, a family continues to wait for answers.

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Idaho Falls Police have not released any new updates about this case. The actual suspect they were searching for is in custody, though. The family of Johnson says they have not heard from the police either while the investigation is underway.

Heather Janssen