Pirates have killed four Americans. Their boat was hijacked last week.

Two Roanokers who are also sailing around the world - recall spotting the ship before it had been hijacked.  At an earlier date they also met the Americans who were killed.

In the blog that Ruth and Randal Johnson keep, they say the "Quest" which was the ship that was hijacked was docked near them at one point.  On Saturday, in their last blog entry, the Johnsons write they have learned of the four Americans being hijacked.

US officials say Somali pirates shot the four Americans off the coast of East Africa Tuesday.  Navy war ships had been trailing them since learning of the hijacking on Friday.  When US forces heard gunfire, government officials say they moved in but it was too late.

The shooting victims which consisted of two couples had reportedly been sailing around the world.  They'd been known to hand out Bibles in remote areas.  One of the couples was from Los Angeles, the other from Seattle.

In the shootout with the Navy four pirates were killed.  US authorities say they've also detained more than a dozen of the pirates who survived.

As for the local couple the Johnsons, News7 has obtained an email they wrote to their friends and family about two weeks ago.  In it the Johnsons say they're okay but they've decided to ship their boat to Turkey instead of continuing to sail in such dangerous teritory.  They specifically say fear of pirate attacks has grown so much in the past months, weeks and days that they no longer feel it is safe to make the passage.

To read the Johnsons blog click here