21-Yr-Old Dies Clutching Bible, Preaching the Gospel to His Killer: “I’m Not Afraid. I Know Where I’m Going.”


Jesus instructs in Mark 16:15 that we are to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”

As Christ followers, we know this is our kingdom duty, but how many of us carry it out in our daily lives? And how fewer yet would have the bold courage to declare the Gospel in the face of death?

Jared Plesec is one of those few.

Photo Credit: Plesec Family

The 21-year-old Salvation Army worker was shot dead one Saturday morning in Cleveland while clutching his Bible and sharing the Gospel with his murderer.

His killer, 27-year-old William Jones, then continued on a carjacking crime spree that eventually ended in his arrest in Lakewood.

Jared had worked for the Salvation Army as a Bible study teacher for years, and died doing the thing he loved most: spreading the love of Jesus.

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“Jared was an employee (youth worker) and church member of The Salvation Army Temple Corps Community Center in Collinwood. Jared died as he lived, sharing God’s love,” the Salvation Army released in a statement. “Jared passed away in full Salvation Army uniform with his Bible in hand leaving home on his day off to volunteer at The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle.”

According to those who knew him best, Jared’s final act came as no surprise.

He lived to “teach people who God was” and “to love and care for people” according to Major Daniel Alverio of the Salvation Army.

“I would talk to Jared often and he would say that he was not afraid,” added Alverio. “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.”

Another friend, Amante Crawley, echoed Alverio’s sentiments about Jared’s radiant love for Jesus.

“He showed me the light and everything that the Lord could do to me, how he could work through me,” said Crawley. “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.”

Though friends, family and coworkers cannot fathom why someone would take the life of such a beautiful soul, they know Jared would have wanted them to forgive his killer. After all, it’s what he would have done.

With a heavy heart, the Salvation Army penned these words in honor of their late friend, who served God and others faithfully to the very end:

“In the past two days, hundreds of individuals, mostly youth, have flocked to The Salvation Army in Collinwood to pay tribute to Jared’s life. They all had one thing in common, Jared loved them, he cared for them and he changed their lives.  

Today our we feel great loss that Jared was taken from us too soon. Yet we rejoice that he is in heaven with the loving Heavenly Father he told so many people about.  

Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Kelsey Straeter
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Kelsey is an editor at Outreach. She’s passionate about fear fighting, freedom writing, and the pursuit of excellence in the name of crucifying perfectionism. Glitter is her favorite color, 2nd only to pink, and 3rd only to pink glitter.