A 6-year-old helped his critically injured father call police after his mother was fatally shot in an Indianapolis robbery last week that unfolded as the family had pulled over to deal with a vehicle issue.
Wilma Hochstetler, 40, was helping her husband Jonathan fix their trailer’s headlight the night of Sept. 16 when the couple noticed a pair of men walking near them, Wilma’s brother, Ervin Slabaugh, said in a phone interview with . At first, the couple thought nothing of it – but then the men approached the Hochstetlers with guns drawn and demanded they hand over their valuables, Slabaugh said.
The men allegedly took the couple’s money and Wilma’s cellphone, IndyStar, a local newspaper, reported. They had turned around and were starting to walk away when they allegedly wheeled back on the Hochstetlers and shot them both, IndyStar reports.
A bullet hit Wilma in the brain stem, killing her instantly, Slabaugh told . However, Jonathan survived the gunshot he took to the neck and managed to get back to their vehicle, where his 6-year-old son was hiding in the back seat.
The father instructed the 6-year-old to get his cellphone out of the car so that he could call 911, local station WISH-TV reports.
“I don’t think Jonathan could have done it without him,” Slabaugh said of his young nephew.
Jonathan was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, WISH-TV reports. He has since undergone surgery to fuse three of his vertebrae together, according to the outlet.
The Hochstetlers’ home is about an hour and a half from Indianapolis, but Jonathan had driven into the city earlier that evening to work on a job site, IndyStar reports. A tire had blown out on his trailer, so he asked Wilma to drive from their home with a spare. She brought their 6-year-old with her.
After they replaced the tire, the couple noticed that the running lights on the trailer weren’t working, according to the paper. They were still working to fix them when the armed men approached them after midnight.
The Hochstetlers were known in their community for their kind hearts and generosity, Slabaugh said. Both raised Amish, they had been happily married for 17 years and had gone on multiple mission trips together.
“If [the attackers] would have showed up at her door, she’d have been so glad to give them whatever they wanted,” Slabaugh said.
Jonathan was still in the hospital as of Tuesday, but doctors hope to have him back home with his son and three daughters by the end of the week, Slabaugh said. Wilma’s funeral will be held on Saturday.
The Indianapolis police department has not yet announced any persons of interest, but Wilma’s family has organized a GoFundMe campaign to offer reward money for help identifying the shooters.
Family friends have also put together a GoFundMe to help cover funeral and recovery costs. As of Tuesday, the campaign had raised over $160,000.
Although the Hochstetlers seek justice, they do not hope for revenge.
“I extend forgiveness to the two murderers. Revenge only begets more violence,” Sam Hochstetler, Jonathan’s father, said in an interview with local outlet WTHR 13.
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