Chris Parker was a 33-year-old homeless man living on the streets of Manchester, England, when a suicide bomb went off. “It knocked me to the floor and then I got up and instead of running away, my gut instinct was to run back and try and help,” he told the media after the bombing. As a result, he was heralded as a hero.
Well, be careful of first news reports.
Parker pleaded guilty in court on Wednesday to two counts of theft and one count of fraud. You see, Parker’s gut instinct was not to help, but to see what he could steal from the dead and critically injured.
Security cameras caught Parker rifling through a purse belonging to the seriously injured Pauline Healey. Also visible a short distance away? Healey’s dying granddaughter.
Parker then apparently tried to use Healey’s bank card to get food at McDonald’s.
Immediately following the blast and Parker’s comments to the media, a GoFundMe was started. It was described as “an effort to help one of our most vulnerable in society who showed great selflessness and courage.”
Michael Johns, the kindhearted man who started the fund for Parker, says he never received any money. He added that the fund was “likely to be rolled up within a matter of hours in the event of a guilty verdict/plea.”
The judge told Parker to expect prison time.
Western culture is so eager to help the unfortunate, especially when it seems they exemplify our greatest expectations of decency. So we fail to retain a healthy bit of skepticism. For every few Johnny Bobbits, you get a Chris Parker who would take advantage of you if given the chance.
Yes, I wish those like Parker were just a small fraction of society, but they’re not. Not by a longshot. There are plenty who would take advantage of our cultural generosity.
The next down-on-his-luck guy who genuinely tries to help will be met with skepticism, and it’s a shame that skepticism is the wise initial response.