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Mother-of-Two Forgives, Helps Free the Man Who Shot Her in the Face: "She's My Guardian Angel"

Leah Marieann Klett : Nov 29, 2016  Gospel Herald

"I was shaken by it because (the attack) was still so fresh at the time. But he called to apologize. I found it unusual and rare, especially from somebody that young. I thought, wow, this kid is smart. Let's not waste this life. Let's give him a chance. He was smart, he was remorseful." -Debbie Baigrie

airlift[Gospel Herald] A Florida woman found the strength and the faith to forgive a young man who nearly killed her in a story of grace, redemption, and healing. (Photo via Gospel Herald)

Twenty-six years ago, Ian Manuel was living in Tampa in one of the poorest, most violent housing projects in the state, according to NBC. At just 13 years old, Manuel was deeply immersed in crime and had 16 arrests on his record.

It was a July evening when, he, along with a group of older teens, saw Debbie Baigrie, a mother-of-two enjoying a night out with her friends. As part of his gang initiation, the young man pulled a gun and told her to "give it up" before he began shooting. One of his bullets went into Baigrie's mouth and out her jaw, knocking out her front tooth and ripping part of her tongue.

"It blew out all the bottom teeth and the gums on the lower left side of my mouth," she recalled.

A few days later, Manuel was arrested in an unrelated case, and confessed to being the gunman who'd wounded Baigrie. Despite his young age, the judge sentenced Manuel to life without parole, determined to make an example out of the teen. For a time, officials placed Manuel in isolation, negatively impacting his mental health. He repeatedly acted out, leading him to spend nearly 20 years separated from the general prison population...

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