20,1974 was the last day of school
before Christmas vacation. I was 10 years old and
excited about the upcoming holiday as I got off the
school bus that afternoon. A few doors down from my
home in Coral Gables, Florida, a man came up to
me, introduced himself as " Chuck" and asked if I would
help him with the decorations for a party he was hosting
for my father. Thinking that he was a friend of my dad's, I
agreed to go with
I didn't know was that this man,whose name was
actually David McAllister, held a grudge against my family.
He had been employed as a nurse for an elderly relative .but
had been fired because of his drinking.
I agreed to accompany him, he drove his motor home
to an isolated area north of Miami, where he stopped by the side
of the road and stabbed me in the chest several times with an
ice pick. He then drove west to the Florida Everglades, walked me
out among the bushes, shot me, through the head and left me to die.
the bullet passed behind my eyes and exited my right
temple, without causing any brain damage. When I
regained consciousness six days later, I was
unaware that I had been shot.
I sat by the side of the road and was found by a man who stopped
to help me.
weeks later, I described the person who had assaulted me
to a police artist, and my uncle recognized the resulting portrait
as that of David McAllister. He was brought in along with other
suspects, but for some reason I wasn't able to identify him.
Unfortunately, the police could not obtain any physical evidence
to link him to the crime, and he was never charged.
assault left me blind in my left eye, but otherwise uninjured
and with the love and support of my family and friends, I went back
to school and resumed my life.
For the next three years I lived with tremendous anxiety.
nights I would wake up frightened, imagining I heard someone
coming in the back door, and I would wind up sleeping at the
foot of my parent's bed.
when I was 13, all that changed .One night, during a Bible study with my church
youth group, I realized that God's providence
and love, having miraculously kept me alive , were the basis for my
life's security. In His hands, I could live
without fear or anger.And so I did.I finished school,earning a Bachelor's degree
and a master of divinity. I married my wonderful wife , Leslie. We have two
beautiful daughters, Amanda ,who is now 2 and Melodee who is almost a year
September of 1996 major Charles Scherer of the Coral Gables
Police Department, who had worked on the original investigation
of my case, called to tell me that 77 year old David McAllister had finally
confessed .Blind from glaucoma, in poor health,without family or friends, he was
in a North Miami Beach nursing home. I visited him there.
first time I went to see him, he apologized for what he had done to me ,and I
told him I had forgiven him . I visited him many times after that, introducing
him to my wife and girls , offering him hope , and some semblence of family in
the days before his death.
He was always glad when I came by. I believe that our friendship
eased the lonliness and was a great relief to him after 22 years of regrets
know the world might view me as the "victim" of a horrible tragedy,
but I consider myself the "victim" of many miracles .The fact that I
am alive and have no mental deficiencies defies the odds.
I've got a loving wife and a beautiful family . I've been given as
much promise as anybody else, and ample opportunities. I've been
blessed in a lot of ways.
while many people can't understand how I could forgive David McAllister, from my
point of view I couldn't NOT forgive him. If I had chosen to hate him all these
years , or spent my life looking for revenge, then I wouldn't be the man today,
the man my wife and children love.
Creator would never have made such lovely days and have
given us the deep hearts to enjoy them unless we were meant to be immortal.
Memorials to Other Friends
Helpful Resources on Grief
youth are hurting, our families are grieving, our senior citizens are mourning.
The most vulnerable in our community need a place to turn.
None of us can escape
the pain of grief and loss. Our vision at
THE LIGHTHOUSE FOR NEW HOPE is to
establish a facility that will be there for our community when loss occurs.
I believe the death of James and hundreds of others every
year could have been prevented.
PROJECT....Fighting Against the Underride Tragedy