Church leader shot in the head while preaching at Glendale street corner
GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — A congregation is in shock after a beloved religious leader was shot in the head while preaching on a Glendale street corner on Wednesday night. In an update on Friday morning, Glendale police say 26-year-old Hans Schmidt, a husband and father of two, remains in critical condition and officers are asking for the public’s help in finding who’s responsible.
It happened on the northwest corner of 51st and Peoria avenues around 6 p.m. Wednesday. Friends say it happened as the former military combat medic was standing with a megaphone on the street corner, preaching the gospel to people passing by, something he’d apparently done countless times before. Only this time, someone pulled out a gun and shot him.
Friends and family can’t understand why. “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. He’s out to help the community,” said Henry Branch, who lives nearby. Schmidt also helps lead weekly services at the Victory Chapel as the outreach director.
“This is a horrible, horrible offense,” said Officer Gina Winn, the public information officer for Glendale police. “We have a 26-year-old who was a military medic. He is recently married, he has two small children and he’s currently in a critical state.”
Paul Sanchez works nearby and said when Schmidt was out preaching, some people drove by screaming and cursing at him. “There was a lot of everything, really—hateful comments, people yelling at him, ‘get off the street,’ all sorts of mean things,” he said. Sanchez never imagined things would escalate, especially since he says Schmidt never confronted anyone or responded to the mean comments.
Larry Dettman was at services at the church on Wednesday night when the pastor announced what happened. Minutes later, the pastor left for the hospital to check on Schmidt. “Out of nowhere, how does this happen? There’s some real evil in this world, bunch of human junk in their life and they take it out on somebody else,” Dettman said.
“Now, 51st Avenue is a very busy intersection, so we know for a fact that there were people in the area, there were vehicles driving within the area,” Officer Winn said. “So we believe there is somebody within the Valley that does know something about what happened.”
It’s still unclear whether the street preacher was shot by someone driving by or someone on foot. So far, no arrests have been made. Glendale police are asking anyone with information to contact the department at 623-930-3000, or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS or 480-TESTIGO for Spanish speakers.
“It is imperative that the public reach out if you do have information so we can bring justice to Hans and his family,” Officer Winn said.
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