Violent crime has been on the rise in cities nationwide as reports of senseless attacks flood social media platforms.
Despite the ubiquity of such brutality, one case from Glendale, Arizona, is particularly troubling due to the circumstances surrounding the near-fatal shooting.
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According to reports, Hans Schmidt, the outreach director for a Phoenix-area church, was preaching the gospel in a public space on Wednesday evening when a passerby pulled out a gun and fired at least once, striking him in the head.
Police spokesperson Gina Winn described it as a “horrible, horrible offense,” describing the victim as a 26-year-old recently married father of two who previously served as a medic in the military.
Schmidt was reportedly preaching via megaphone at about 6 p.m. when the incident occurred. It was not clear from initial reports whether the shooter was a pedestrian or fired from a vehicle.
The victim was transported to an area hospital where he “began seizing and was intubated,” according to an update by his church, Victory Chapel First Phoenix.
“There has been some movement; however, physicians are uncertain how much is voluntary and began draining fluid from his brain,” the statement continued. “He remains in critical condition, please continue praying.”
Schmidt’s wife, Zulya, shared her own update via social media, expressing love for her husband and asserting that “God has the final say.”
Jesse James, a business owner who was ordered to leave the area by police after the shooting, said that public preaching is a common occurrence in the vicinity and he never expected to see such an act of violence against someone like Schmidt.
“It’s something where they preach so much on this corner, and it’s such a congested area,” he said. “I always thought they might get hit by a car; I didn’t know they would be shot.”
One local resident was clearly outraged by the apparently unprovoked attack against someone simply sharing his faith with others.
“Who knows why someone would want to take it out on a preacher like that because he’s speaking the gospel and good news to everybody,” Henry Branch said. “He’s out to help the community.”
Police issued a statement indicating the incident remained under investigation. No suspect had been identified as of the most recent updates available.