In a troubling act of wanton violence, Hans Schmidt, a revered Christian leader, fell victim to a gunshot wound to the head Wednesday evening while spreading his faith in Glendale, Arizona. Schmidt, a father and the outreach director for Victory Chapel First Phoenix, was engaging in his routine street preaching at the time of the incident.
At approximately 6 p.m. at the corner of 51st and Peoria avenues, Schmidt’s session of sharing the gospel was abruptly interrupted by what police are treating as an attempted assassination. This brazen attack left him critically injured and plunged the local community and his congregation into a state of shock and dismay.
Details remain scarce on where the assailant came from, but the outcome was undeniably severe. Schmidt was swiftly taken to the emergency room, where he was found to be in critical condition, experiencing seizures and requiring intubation. Efforts to alleviate pressure on his brain are ongoing, with his movements under close observation for signs of voluntary response.
Street preacher shot at Glendale intersection https://t.co/JOGcdOnJxv
— Jay Haizlip (@jayhaizlip) November 17, 2023
The sudden and unprovoked nature of this attack has sparked widespread concern among residents and businesses. Local resident Henry Branch expressed his inability to comprehend the motive behind targeting someone dedicated to sharing positive messages. Jesse James, owner of a local comic book store, noted the regular presence of street preachers in the area and expressed his alarm over the escalation from the danger of traffic to that of a shooting.
Law enforcement officials have not yet made any arrests in connection with the shooting, and the investigation continues. As the community grapples with this tragedy, the emphasis on vigilance and the need for increased safety measures have been highlighted by local business owners.
The incident has also reignited discussions around the challenges faced by street preachers like Schmidt, who often confront hostility and antagonism while practicing their faith publicly. Paul Sanchez, who works nearby, recalled witnessing individuals driving by, hurling insults and demanding Schmidt leave the street. Despite such adversity, Sanchez attested that Schmidt never met anger with anger.
This incident is a sad reminder of the risks inherent in public displays of faith in a society where differing beliefs can lead to conflict. It underscores the need for a community-wide commitment to protecting the freedom of speech and the safety of those who exercise it.
As Schmidt fights for his life, the community holds its breath for positive developments. His wife, Zulya Schmidt, remains hopeful, calling upon her faith for support in this harrowing time. The congregation and community continue to rally in prayer and support, optimistic for a recovery that seems uncertain but sincerely wished for.