‘I forgave that man already’; Victim in Target shooting speaks publicly for the first time

Jaylen Walker, 21, is confined to a hospital bed after an altercation in a Target parking lot...
Jaylen Walker, 21, is confined to a hospital bed after an altercation in a Target parking lot ended with him being shot in the back(KMOV)
Updated: Jun. 2, 2019 at 6:35 AM CDT
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ST. CHARLES, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- Jaylen Walker, 21, is confined to a hospital bed after an altercation in a Target parking lot ended with him being shot in the back.

Walker, who worked as a delivery driver for Amazon, pulled into the parking lot of the Target Plaza on Mexico Road and Muegge Road in St. Charles Tuesday afternoon to drop off items.

When he did, he parked in a handicapped spot.

65-year-old Larry Thomlinson saw Walker park there and took a photo of his vehicle on his way into the store. Prosecutors said when he came out of the store, he walked directly up to Walker’s vehicle and confronted him.

According to authorities, during the argument, Thomlinson punched Walker and the two ended up on the ground.

“He kept putting the camera in my face, he rubs it in my face and I grabbed his phone, he was still holding on to it, and we were both wrestling with the phone,” Walker said.

As Walker got up, police say he saw a handgun in Thomlinson’s waistband and began to back away. When he turned to run back to his vehicle, police say Thomlinson drew his gun and shot him in the back.

“He fell to the ground and I started to run and I looked back, and he was fumbling for a gun on his hip. Right when I turned the corner, I was shot,” said Walker.

The bullet hit Walker’s spine, paralyzing him from the waist down. When he spoke to reporters for the first time, he said he was trying to stay positive, even making jokes to ease his family’s pain.

“You know, justice is being served. Justice is being served,” he said. “I’ll be fine. Like I’ve been telling everyone, I forgave that man already. "

Thomlinson was arrested at the Famous Footwear near where the shooting happened and cooperated with investigators. St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar announced his office had charged Thomlinson with first-degree assault and armed criminal action; noting that he was the aggressor throughout the entire incident and had plenty of opportunities to stop the confrontation. Thomlison is also facing a civil lawsuit filed by Walker.

“This guy was somebody who should have known better,” Lohmar said. “He’s been through the St. Charles Citizens Police Academy not once, but twice. He has his concealed carry permit. So he knows when he’s authorized and when he’s not authorized to discharge a weapon.”

Walker has a one-year-old son and said Wednesday he wants to be strong throughout his recovery for the sake of his child.

News 4 caught up with Walker in June during his road to recovery.

Since he’s been in rehab, he’s experienced more grief. His cousin, 23-year- old Nicholas Perkins, who visited him regularly in rehab, died in a car accident on I-55 just south of downtown St. Louis on May 19. Perkins was the passenger in a car that crashed into the rear of an 18-wheeler.

“We grew up together, we were like brothers,” said Walker, “If anything, I’m going to keep pushing for him.”

Walker pushes himself out of his wheelchair, getting stronger daily, for another person he loves.

“I have a son [1-year-old] that looks up to me and I don’t want to ever let him down,” said Walker.

Walker says he’s forgiven the man who shot him so that he can focus on his family instead of the past.

“I pray for him every day, just like I pray for me to recover every day,” said Walker.

When Walker leaves rehab, he does not have a place to live with his son that is wheelchair accessible. A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Jaylen with his medical expenses and to find a new home that will be his needs.