A Missouri Amazon driver who illegally parked in a handicapped-accessible space has forgiven the man who allegedly confronted him and shot him in the back leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
Jaylen Walker, a 21-year-old who also worked as a personal trainer, told KSDK-TV from his bed in the intensive care unit at Saint Louis University Hospital: ‘I forgive that man. I just have to move on. Justice will be served. I don’t want to die with that on my heart.’
The father to a one-year-old boy worked for a company contracted to deliver Amazon packages and said that he had just finished his shift around noon when he pulled into a handicap parking spot while stopping to help a fellow driver.
Larry Thomlison, 65, of St. Charles, who isn’t disabled himself but had a placard allowing him to park in handicapped-accessible spots because of a relative, pulled out a cellphone to photograph the illegally parked delivery van, and posted the image to social media, according to charges.
Then Thomlison confronted Walker about the parking spot and put his phone ‘in the face of’ the Amazon driver in an attempt to photograph him, according to the charges.
Walker said he told Thomlison that he was going to move but ‘he kept harassing me.’ Charges say that when Walker pushed the phone away, Thomlison punched the driver. During the struggle, they ended up on the ground and Thomlison pulled out a gun, police say.
Prosecutors said surveillance video shows Walker trying to run away when he was shot in the back outside a Target store.
‘When he pulled the gun out, my eyes were just amazed,’ Walker said from the hospital.
‘I tried to run in between two cars. He had a nice aim and hit me right in the spine.’
Authorities said Thomlison then walked into a nearby shoe store where he was subsequently arrested.
Walker was taken to a hospital on Tuesday and was in a critical but stable condition with a back wound.
Amazon described the incident as ‘terrible’.
Walker’s family said the ‘charismatic, motivated and hard working young man’ has no insurance, and they set up a GoFundMe page that had raised $37,360 of a $50,000 goal by Friday afternoon.
Friend Rob Reichert appealed for the public to help his ‘Little Brother’ who during their college years was ‘full of heart, and genuine kindness’.
‘I learned about a life that existed outside of the bubble I was accustomed to, and the challenges that even young kids had to face very early on,’ he said about Walker before admitting he didn’t stay in touch with him despite efforts from the injured man’s part.
He said about Walker who ‘was a collegiate athlete, a physical trainer, and working deliveries to help achieve his dreams’: ‘Mentally and physically he has such a long road ahead, and the stress of financial burden of healthcare adds another daunting layer to his recovery process.’
An Amazon spokesman said in a statement that the company is ‘working with Walker, his family, and his company to help support him as he recovers.’ Amazon didn’t elaborate.
‘I’ll be paralyzed for the rest of my life,’ Walker said from hospital this week. ‘I come from a strong family and I’m a strong individual myself. And that man up above, there’s nothing he cannot do.’
Walker’s plans for the future had been to play with his young son ‘just like any other father would,’ go back to school and play basketball.
‘I just thank God I’m still breathing, and I still have opportunities,’ he said in a low voice with a brace around his chest and neck. ‘Just not the ones that I wanted.’
The victim’s mother Regina Walker struggled to understand why someone would provoke and shoot her son, who is the eldest of her three children.
She said her son – who led an active lifestyle and planned on being an entrepreneur who could provide for his family and others – should not have parked in the spot but ‘should have gotten a ticket at worse’.
‘But to be in a wheelchair … his child will never remember seeing him walk or play with him,’ she said. ‘I’m trying to make sense of it. I know that what I can’t understand God already knows the end of it, so I am truly trying to trust the process.’