Choir member attacked

Donald Vann
Donald Vann

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – An appeal tonight for help finding a group of teenagers who violently attacked a mentally disabled man, on his way to church. They accosted the 52-year-old victim near North 20th Street, by Fairfield Court, in the city's East End.

52-year-old Donald Vann came close to becoming a homicide victim. I learned that, during a phone conversation I had with his mother tonight. Vann was shot during what appears to have been a robbery attempt, on his way to choir rehearsal, last Tuesday.

Donald Vann came home from the hospital Sunday. He's on pain meds tonight, nursing a gunshot to his shoulder. The bullet is still in Donald's body. It's too close to a vital organ to be removed.

"When you get a parishner who gets shot coming to church, that's not a good message for everyone else. I don't want anyone feeling that they need to be frightened or concerned coming to church," said Pastor Charles Tillman.

Donald was frightened last Tuesday night. His mother, Barbara Archer, told me, her son said he screamed when the four teens dressed in black flashed a gun and told him not to say a word. His mother says she's thankful because one suspect told the teen shooter -- don't shoot him in the head. The gun went off and Donald ran collapsing on the church parking lot. He called out for help to an associate pastor at his church.

"He said Ronald please help me. I've been shot," Tillman said. "He doesn't carry any money on him, maybe a dollar or two. He doesn't bother anyone and for someone to get shot coming to a choir rehearsal at a church that's about as bad as it gets."

Pastor Tillman says they live and worship in a tough area with three housing projects in close proximity.  The pastor has a message for the teens. "They need to be doing something productive other than going out and shooting someone who is defenseless and harmless."

If you know anything about the teenagers involved in this attack or, maybe the suspects are watching, call police at 780-1000. You can also text Crime Stoppers at 274637, using the key word "Itip" followed by your tip.

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.