Tragedy struck in Cleveland, Ohio, over the weekend when a local Salvation Army worker was shot dead while clutching his Bible — a horrific crime that reportedly unfolded while he was sharing the gospel with the assailant.
Jared Plesec, 21, was found shot in the head on Saturday morning in the lobby of his apartment complex, with police alleging that a 27-year-old man named William Jones is responsible, WKYC-TV reported.
Plesec, who has worked as a Bible study teacher for the Salvation Army for a few years, was reportedly wearing his uniform when he was killed and was on his way to volunteer to collect money for the organization’s annual Red Kettle campaign.
Witnesses also said that Plesec was sharing scripture with the accused when he was killed.
Described as kind, loving and compassionate, Plesec spent his time mentoring local kids and had aspirations of saving money for a car so that he could help bring people to church. The Salvation Army confirmed the tragic death in an email to WKYC on Sunday.
“Jared was an employee (youth worker) and church member of The Salvation Army Temple Corps Community Center in Collinwood. Jared died as he lived, sharing God’s love,” the statement read. “Jared passed away in full Salvation Army uniform with his Bible in hand leaving home on his day off to volunteer at The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle.”
The statement went on to say that the organization is mourning the loss of Plesec, but that staffers rejoice that “he is in heaven with the loving Heavenly Father he told so many people about.”
Friends and loved ones said that Plesec would want them to forgive the person who killed him. And tears have flowed over the past few days as those whose lives Plesec touched remain in shock, while also reflecting on all that he did for them.
Major Daniel Alverio of the Salvation Army told WJC-TV that Plesec was never afraid of the neighborhoods he would preach in. Alverio said that Plesec lived to “teach people who God was” and to “love and care for people.”
“I would talk to Jared often and he would say that he was not afraid. I would say ‘Jared, be careful in the streets.’ He said, ‘I’m not afraid. I know where I’m going’ and for him he would tell you to die is gain,” Alverio said. “Like he had no problem with the idea of being persecuted for the gospel.”
He continued, “He knew what he believed and he was assured that if anything ever happened to him he was going to be alright.”
As evidence of how much of an impact Plesec made, the Cleveland City Council voted on Monday to name a street in his honor.
Police continue to investigate, but allege that Jones went on a carjacking spree after the shooting. A potential motive for the murder has not yet been revealed by police.