Pastor, wife suffer gouged eyes, parts of their ears bitten off in Chicago attack

Published: May. 9, 2021 at 3:34 AM CDT
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CHICAGO (WLS) - A Chicago pastor and his wife were cleaning up outside his mother’s property when they were brutally attacked and bitten, allegedly by a man from the neighborhood.

Pastor Timothy Johnson and his wife, Renee Johnson, who is a special education teacher, say a man approached Timothy Johnson outside his mother’s property last Saturday in the Fernwood neighborhood. The man offered to sell the pastor some watches, and he declined.

“The gentleman tried to basically sell him something, and my dad said no. Literally after ‘no,’ that was it. He was attacked. So, it wasn’t a full conversation. It wasn’t a five or 10-minute reasoning session. It was pretty instant, and I think that’s what’s most shocking about it,” said the Johnsons’ son, Antonio Johnson.

Pastor Timothy Johnson and his wife, Renee Johnson, were brutally attacked, beaten and bitten...
Pastor Timothy Johnson and his wife, Renee Johnson, were brutally attacked, beaten and bitten while cleaning up in a Chicago neighborhood. They’ve both undergone surgeries, and more are likely.(Source: Johnson Family, WLS via CNN)

Timothy Johnson describes what happened as a sudden, vicious attack with the shovel he had been using. He says the suspect bit both of his ears, and when his wife tried to help, she was also beaten and had both ears bitten.

Prosecutors say both victims were also spit on and had their eyes gouged by the suspect’s fingers.

“Physically, this really was a tremendous blow to me, my wife and to our family,” Timothy Johnson said.

The suspect has been identified as 28-year-old Elijah Prince, who was allegedly covered in blood at the time of his arrest. He faces charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery. He is undergoing a psychiatric examination at a hospital.

“Really heartbreaking to see. It’s hard to describe just how gruesome it was without being too graphic, but it was very, very jarring to see,” Antonio Johnson said.

The Johnsons, whose lives have been dedicated to service, say the attack was a blow to their bodies but not their spirits.

“We have come out of this, and we’ve come out of this for a reason. May not know what the reason is right now, but we’ve come out of this,” Renee Johnson said.

The Johnsons’ children set up a GoFundMe to help their parents cope with their unexpected medical expenses. They’ve already had surgeries, and more are likely. The effort has raised more than $144,000.

The family says Timothy Johnson had recently stepped back from ministry, as he’s been battling cancer.

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