A 62-year-old local priest has received support from the community and his church after being shot in the head three times with a pellet hand gun by an 11-year-old boy.
The shooting took place Wednesday night just after 9 p.m. at North 90th Street and Larimore Avenue, when Father Thomas Weisbecker went on a walk around the St. John’s Church neighborhood. He saw a young tall boy standing in the street holding a gun. The boy approached him and demanded money. "Give me your money, I want your money. Get everything out of your pockets." When Father Thomas said he didn’t have any money, the boy shot him and ran. A neighbor watching the situation unfold scared the boy off, and Father John immediately called police.
While waiting for police to arrive, the boy came back and shot him in the head two times. Unsure of the type of gun being used, Father Thomas covered his head to protect himself. The boy ran off again and Father Thomas went down the hill towards the church.
Minutes later, the boy came back for a third time and asked the priest to put his cell phone on the floor. Father Thomas grabbed his umbrella and went after the boy, who ran home.
Police began a search for a young boy wearing an orange hoodie throughout the neighborhood and ended up at his home, where his mother says she knew something was off when her son showed up soaking wet.
Laquacious Hilliard, the boy’s mother, says police asked her if her son had just gotten home. After responding ‘yes,’ she immediately invited them inside and let them question her son. The police found the gun and arrested the 11-year-old boy for suspicion of misdemeanor assault and attempted robbery.
“He wasn't raised like that. He wasn’t brought up like that. He wasn't taught to do things like that,” said Hilliard. “What was going on in his mind and made him do this, I don’t know.”
The mother visited Father Thomas Friday afternoon and apologized for her son’s actions.
“He accepted the apology. We hugged, he shook my hand, and he also told me if I needed anything to not be afraid to ask,” said Hilliard.
Father Thomas says his faith told him to forgive the young boy and doesn’t hold a grudge against the 11-year-old. He says it says a lot about his mother’s character to turn her son in, and will continue to pray for her and her son.