CLEVELAND, Ohio – At the Salvation Army Cleveland Temple on Sunday, dozens consoled one another trying to come to terms with the shooting death of one of their own.
Jared Plesec, 21, was shot and killed in the lobby of the Euclid Beach Village Apartments early Saturday at the beginning of a crime spree that police believe resulted in more than half-a-dozen carjackings before police were able to stop the 27-year-old suspect.
Witnesses told Fox 8 News that Plesec was sharing scripture with Ted Jones just before Jones shot him in the head.
Those who know Plesec the best say it was a calling for which he was genuinely passionate and from their own personal interaction with him, they say he profoundly changed many lives.
“He lived every day to talk about that family. To teach people who God was. To love and care for people,” said Major Daniel Alverio of the Salvation Army.
“I would talk to Jared often and he would say that he was not afraid. 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. He knew what he believed and he was assured that if anything ever happened to him he was going to be alright,” said Alverio.
“He basically is the one that brought me to church. 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,” said Amante Crawley.
Many others say they became involved with the Salvation Army and owe the fact that they have become devout Christians to the passion of Plesec.
“These are kids that he calls on Sundays. He makes sure they come to church and when they are not here he would say ‘I miss you,’ and today we are missing him,” said Alverio.
Plesec started working in a weight room at the Salvation Army where many young men would come to just hang out.
While interacting with them he would share scripture and encourage them to attend church.
Also present for Sunday’s service were members of Plesec’s family.
“Jared, he was the real deal. He loved the Lord with all his heart. All he wanted was to bring people to him. He wanted to do it in whatever way he could,” said Diane Schaffer, a cousin.
“He would go into any neighborhood. He wasn’t afraid of anything. He wanted people to know what they were supposed to be doing and how to live their lives. He was a wonderful, wonderful person,” she added.
Another cousin said Plesec was trying to save money so he could get a car. He wanted the car so that he could pick people up and bring them to church and to the Salvation Army.
“He wasn’t afraid of retaliation or whatever. He was well-loved in the community and intended to stay on his path,” said Bob Gornik.
“He changed many people’s lives with his words and actions because his words showed his actions; his actions showed his words,” said Tank Mount, explaining that his life would have been very different had it not been for the positive influence of Plesec.
“He was just a real good person. He taught me so many things. Honestly, he felt like that uncle that everybody would want in their life,” said Rasheed Adams.
Police were not releasing a possible motive for the crime on Sunday.