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Arizona Church Leader Shot in Head While Street Preaching in Critical Condition

By Liz Lykins
hans schmidt
Hans Schmidt, outreach director at Victory Chapel First Phoenix Church in central Arizona, is in critical condition after being shot. (Photos via social)

A church leader is in critical condition, after being shot in the head last week, while preaching on a street corner in the Phoenix area.

Hans Schmidt, 26-year-old outreach director at Victory Chapel First Phoenix Church, was shot while evangelizing on a street near the church before its Wednesday evening service, police in Glendale, Ariz., announced in a press release.

Schmidt is a husband and father to two young children and previously served as a military combat medic. As of Friday morning, Schmidt remained in critical condition, police said.

Officers initially responded to a call for service about a male who arrived at a local hospital with a severe head injury, said Gina Winn, Glendale Police Department’s public information officer, in a press conference 

“It was believed this was due to an assault, but it was later determined the subject had sustained a gunshot wound,” Winn said. She said Schmidt was injured at the northwest corner of 51st and Peoria avenues while “preaching about a church service at a local church.” The police are still determining where the shots came from and why.

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“We are seeking the public’s assistance in obtaining any information regarding what could have happened,” she said, explaining that the intersection he stood at is usually busy and likely to have had witnesses. “We believe there is somebody within the valley that does know something about what happened.”

“This is a horrible, horrible offense,” Winn added. “It is imperative that the public reach out if you do have information so that we can bring justice to Hans and his family.”  

Detectives are also reviewing surveillance footage from businesses in the area for further clues, Winn said.

Witness Paul Sanchez told 3TV/CBS 5 that he reportedly saw a vehicle drive by Schmidt with people inside who screamed and cursed at him.

“There was a lot of everything, really, hateful comments, people yelling at him, ‘Get off the street,’ all sorts of mean things,” Sanchez told the news publication. 

On the night of the incident church services at Victory Chapel were stopped due to the shooting, Larry Dettman, a church member, told 3TV/CBS 5.

“Out of nowhere, how does this happen? There’s some real evil in this world, bunch of human junk in their life and they take it out on somebody else,” Dettman said.

The day after the shooting, Schmidt’s wife, Zulya Schmidt, asked for anyone with information to contact police.

“Believing God has the final say. I love you so much babe,” she wrote in a Facebook post. The post now has more than 17,000 shares on Facebook.

Victory Chapel shared Schmidt is in “desperate need of a miracle” in a statement posted on the church website.

“The family remains encouraged by what they are seeing and are rejoicing,” the statement said. “Thank you to all those around the world who have reached out to share your prayers, love, and support.”

Yesterday the church posted on Instagram asking for continued prayers and said that “we are believing God for a miracle!”

​An earlier statement from the church explained that Schmidt’s family discovered he had been shot after a CT scan revealed the injury, the Christian Post reported. Schmidt was then intubated after having a seizure and fluid was drained from his brain.

The church held services this past Sunday, but congregants were still in a state of shock, AZ Central reported.

“This is horrific. For something like this to happen to somebody that was just standing on the corner preaching, and he’s done it for months,” Bob Mammen, a congregant of Victory Chapel, told AZ Central

Mammen said he first met Schmidt in Hawaii when he was a pastor and Schmidt was a teenager. They reconnected again when Schmidt moved to Arizona to start a family and join the military as a combat medic.

“I know Hans pretty well,” Mammen said. “I feel for him and his family, wife, and two real little kids. One of them is eight weeks old. This is really rough for them.”

The church is currently collecting donations to help cover Schmidt’s medical expenses. A GoFundMe page, started Friday by a family friend, has now raised more than $11,100.

“We can only begin to imagine the hurt and stress that this family is going through right now,” Brad Currell wrote on the page. “We are starting this GoFundMe to support Hans’ wife so that she has less to be concerned about and can devote all of her attention to Hans.”

Freelance journalist Liz Lykins writes for WORLD Magazine, Christianity Today, Ministry Watch, and other publications.

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