An online fundraiser has garnered nearly $50,000 for the family of a 37-year-old man who was shot to death in front of his 2-year-old son and pregnant wife while he was sharing the Gospel in Montgomery, Alabama, last weekend.
The funeral of Thomas Hand Jr. will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, where Hand is originally from, on Friday, the wife, former Miss Mississippi Christine Kozlowski, announced on social media days after her sister launched the fundraiser for her nephew, Roman, and the couple’s unborn child.
A teenager approached and shot Hand as he was sharing the Gospel on Texas Street in Montgomery last Saturday. Hand, who was with his 2-year-old son and his wife, who is pregnant with the couple’s second child, suffered a fatal wound and was pronounced dead at the scene, WSFA reported.
“This fundraiser is going to serve as a savings account for the son and baby of Thomas Hand Jr.,” the GoFundMe page reads. “The funds raised by this account will go toward helping pay for my nephew Roman and the baby’s future expenses. Any and all funds donated will be appreciated during this tough time for the Hand family. My sister Christine Kozlowski Hand will be the beneficiary for this account.”
As of early Sunday, it had raised $50,782 of the goal of $3,000.
Police have arrested 17-year-old Jerimiah Walker of Montgomery, charging him with capital murder in the shooting death, according to the media outlet.
The motive of the murder remains unclear.
“It was a complete random act of violence,” Hand’s wife told the Daily Mail, which also said Hand, a fitness buff and ex-competitive bodybuilder, became a Christian in 2018, and it was the couple’s tradition to visit low-income areas in Alabama and share the Gospel.
“Thank you for all of the thoughts and prayers during this time of the passing of my husband Tommy Hand. I feel the love and support from everyone and just wanted to let everyone know that indeed,” she wrote on Facebook last Sunday.
The Hands moved to Montgomery last year to escape growing violence in the New Orleans suburb where they previously lived, longtime friend Kevin Rayan told Daily Mail. “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.”