A Salvation Army worker was shot and killed in a horrific crime in Cleveland, Ohio, while he was trying to share the gospel from the Bible he clutched with the assailant.
Jared Plesec, 21, was a church member and a Bible Study teacher at the Salvation Army in Cleveland who had been a part of the church for several years. He was found dead on December 9th with a single gunshot to the head in the lobby of his apartment building. According to authorities, Plesec was dressed in his Salvation Army uniform, and was on his way to work that day as a volunteer to help raise money for the Annual Red Kettle collection drive that the organization sponsors each holiday season.
Police have identified the culprit as 27-year-old William Jones, who made Plesec the first victim of his weekend crime spree that involved at least six car jackings before he was finally apprehended. Witnesses say that Plesec was sharing scripture with Jones just before he was shot in the head.
Jared Plesec began working at the Salvation Army when he started visiting the local weight room at the church where many of the young men would spend time hanging out. It was there that he began interacting with them and started to introduce them to the Scripture and encourage them to attend church.
Those who know Jared Plesec best say it was his calling to spread the Gospel to everyone he came in contact with. It was his genuine passion to teach people about God. In fact, many people say that Plesec changed their lives simply from the personal interaction they experienced with him. Others indicate that they became involved with the Salvation Army and are now devout Christians due to the passion of Plesec and his continued encouragement.
Amante Crawley is in shock over this tragic loss.
“He basically is the one that brought me to church,” Crawley said. “He showed me the light and everything that the Lord could do to me, how he could work through me. Anybody who did him wrong he just loved. He loved everyone. That’s why I can’t understand why someone would do this to him. He was a loving person.”
Plesec is described by fellow church members as being a kind and compassionate young man who freely gave his time to help mentor local kids. He cared so much about people, that he was actually saving his money to buy a car to help take people to and from church.
“Jared was an employee (youth worker) and church member of The Salvation Army Temple Corps Community Center in Collinwood,” the charity said in a statement posted to its website. “Jared died as he lived, sharing God’s love. 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.”
Major Daniel Alverio of the Salvation Army said that Plesec lived to “teach people who God was” and to “love and care for people.” He indicated that he was never afraid to reach out to people, no matter how bad the neighborhoods they lived in were.
“I would talk to Jared often and he would say that he was not afraid,” he said. “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. Like, he had no problem with the idea of being persecuted for the Gospel.”
Dozens of people gathered at the Salvation Army Cleveland Temple on the Sunday after the incident to console each other and mourn the tragedy of the shooting death and loss of their beloved church member.
“He changed many people’s lives with his words and actions because his words showed his actions; his actions showed his words,” said friend Tank Mount, who claims his life would be much different if he had not had the benefit of meeting Plesec and been surrounded by his positive influence.
Police still have not released a possible motive for the crime.
~ 1776 Christian