A religious leader in Arizona is fighting for his life after being shot in the head earlier this week while preaching on a street corner in Glendale.
Hans Schmidt, 26, a military medic and the Christian father of two children, was shot Wednesday around 6:15 p.m. in the area of 51st Avenue and Peoria, according to local authorities.
The shooting took place as Schmidt, who had recently moved to Arizona and is now hospitalized in critical condition, was preaching the gospel on the street and promoting a nearby church service.
"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, according to FOX 10.
Victory Chapel, where Schmidt served as outreach director, posted an update on Schmidt's condition Friday. "The family is encouraged by what they are seeing," the church said, and asked for continued prayer.
The shooting is under investigation, and authorities are seeking tips to identify who was responsible for the attack. It is unclear at this time, according to authorities, whether Schmidt was targeted or the shooting 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, who works nearby in the area where the shooting occurred, told AZ Family that people who passed by Schmidt when he was preaching would scream and curse 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, who was in disbelief that the situation escalated the way it did.
Another individual who works in the area, the owner of Jesse James Comics, expressed disbelief over the situation after he was asked by police to move his vehicle following the shooting.
"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.
After finding out about what had taken place, James said he is more aware of his surroundings. "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.
"After tonight, I think we just need to take those extra steps," he added. "Closing at the right time . . . making sure at nighttime we have extra people on the floor . . . just be aware of our surroundings a little bit more."
So far, no arrests have been made in connection with the shooting. However, a statement on the matter from the Glendale Police Department noted that detectives investigating the incident "believe there are additional witnesses to this offense who may have information about what occurred."
"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.
Police are asking for anyone with information about the shooting to call 623-930-3000 or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS, or 480-TESTIGO for Spanish speakers.