[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
The husband of a former Miss America contestant was gunned down in front of his wife and young son while educating poverty-stricken strangers about Christianity.
According to DailyMail.com, Thomas Hand Jr., a born-again Christian, was spreading information about the powers of God in an Alabama neighborhood with his beauty queen wife and their two-year-old child Roman on Saturday — days after the couple celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary — when a man who was mumbling walked up and shot him.
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His wife, Christine Kozlowski Hand, confirmed the tragic news to the outlet, sharing:
“What you said is true. It was a complete random act of violence.”
Wow… no words.
Police said a 17-year-old was arrested in the shooting and faces a charge of capital murder in Hand’s death. The suspect was later named as Jerimiah Walker of Montgomery, where the shooting took place.
After discovering God in 2018, Thomas, a former competitive bodybuilder, and his former Miss Mississippi wife made it a Saturday tradition to visit low-income areas in Alabama and share religious teachings. His longtime friend Kevin Rayan told the outlet:
“He tried to spread the word of God, and he was shot.”
Rayan said the Hand family moved to the Alabama city last year to get away from the growing violence in the New Orleans, Louisiana suburb where they used to live. He shared:
“It’s crazy because he was telling me every day, ‘I want to get away from this crap, go buy a house in Alabama,’ and then this happened.”
Longtime friend Luke Lemus added:
“It’s a huge tragedy, not only to his wife, but we lost a very dear friend, as well. Heaven definitely gained an angel. It’s selfish to think we wish we could have it back.”
Thomas married Christine, who is pregnant with their second child, in 2016. The beauty queen took to Facebook to confirm her husband’s death and thank her friends for their support. She wrote:
“I’m just overwhelmed with all the questions and retelling of the details of what happened. I will at a later date release more information to explain everything to everyone.”
Christine went on to ask her friends to continue supporting the couple’s business, supplement company Hand Nutrition, which would relocate to her hometown of Biloxi, Mississippi. She added:
“Also for all of his loyal and cherished customers at Hand Nutrition the company will continue to serve you guys and we ask that you stick with us as this will be our only means of support for our son and baby to be. We need your support now more than ever.”
Walker is being held at the Montgomery County Detention Facility. The case remains under investigation.
[Image via Montgomery P.D./YouTube]