74-year-old church director dies after attempted robbery, police say
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC/Gray News) - A robbery in broad daylight in Tennessee over the weekend claimed the life of a 74-year-old church director.
Police in Memphis are on the hunt for the people responsible for the death of Stephen Pearl.
Family and friends, including Ames Saunders, said Pearl was an easy-going and selfless man.
“It was just very surreal,” Saunders said. “Somebody you see on a daily basis and have conversations with, the next thing you know, they’re out cold on the ground.”
Surveillance video from Saturday morning caught the incident just before 6 a.m.
Police said at least two suspects ambushed Pearl outside of his home on Watson Street, fatally wounding him.
Video shows the suspects pass Pearl driving down the street before turning around and hopping out of the car.
Officials said they then tried to rob Pearl.
Pearl’s family says he was hit in the head with a gun, and a single gunshot went off during the struggle, missing Pearl, but catching the attention of neighbors.
The suspects quickly drove off in a silver SUV, and police showed up minutes later.
“This neighborhood is a great neighborhood filled with great people,” Saunders said. “Bad people come in here and they case the place out and they look for targets, easy targets. At six in the morning on a Saturday. There are not too many people out, and if you’re the only one out and that’s what they’re looking for, there’s too much of that going on.”
Pearl died at the hospital Monday morning from his head injury.
His fellow parishioners at Christ Church Memphis, where he was the director of facilities for 27 years, are mourning his loss.
Senior Pastor Paul Lawler told WMC that Pearl was “selfless and always going the extra mile. An extraordinary human being.”
Pearl’s family shared pictures and described him as an adventurer who was loved by everyone and would give the shirt off his back to anyone.
He leaves behind a wife, three children, nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
A description of the suspects has not been released, but anyone who recognizes the silver SUV or has any information on this investigation is urged to reach out to the Memphis Police Department or Crimestoppers at 901-528-CASH.
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