After being shot in the head while preaching on a Glendale street corner, a religious leader in Arizona is fighting for his life.
According to local authorities, Hans Schmidt, 26, a military doctor and the father of two children who practices Christianity, was shot on Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. in the vicinity of 51st Avenue and Peoria.
Schmidt, who had recently moved to Arizona and is currently in critical condition in the hospital, was promoting a nearby church meeting and preaching the gospel on the street when the shooting occurred.
“This is a horrible, horrible event. We have a 26-year-old who is a military man, who was recently married and has two small children. He’s in a critical state,” said Gina Winn of the Glendale Police Department.
Schmidt was the outreach director at Victory Chapel, and on Friday, the church shared an update on his health. The church said, “The family is encouraged by what they are seeing,” and requested more prayers.
Authorities are looking for information to identify the shooter and are conducting an investigation into the incident. Authorities say it’s unclear at this point if Schmidt was the intended target of the shooting or if it was a random act of violence.
“51st Avenue and Peoria is a very busy intersection, so we know for a fact that there were people within the area. There were vehicles driving within the area, so we believe there is somebody within the Valley that does know something about what happened,” said Winn, a public information officer for Glendale police. “We believe there is someone in the Valley who knows what happened. If you saw an individual or vehicle, you’re asked to call the Glendale Police Department.”
Paul Sanchez, a neighbor who works in the vicinity of the shooting scene, told AZ Family that when Schmidt was preaching, passersby would yell and swear at him.
“There was a lot of everything, really—hateful comments, people yelling at him, ‘Get off the street,’ all sorts of mean things,” recalled Sanchez.
After police had requested to move his car after the incident, another local employee, the owner of Jesse James Comics, expressed shock at the situation.
“When I came out, they had changed the whole traffic, so the whole traffic was only down to one lane going through the complex,” James told FOX 10.
James said that he is now more conscious of his surroundings after learning about what had happened. “It’s such a congested area . . . I always thought they might get hit by a car. I didn’t know they would be shot,” James said.
“It is imperative that the public reach out if you do have information, so we can bring justice to Hans and his family,” Winn said.
Anybody with information regarding the incident is asked to contact the police at 623-930-3000, Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS, or 480-TESTIGO for Spanish speakers.