Homeless Man Robbed Victims He Was Praised for Helping

Man pleads guilty to robbery in wake of Manchester Arena bombing
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2018 1:36 PM CST
Homeless Man Robbed Victims He Was Praised for Helping
Homeless man Chris Parker was characterized as a hero after the Manchester Arena bombing, but closed-circuit TV footage played in court showed him stealing a purse and mobile phone from victims of the May attack.   (PA FILE via AP)

"Instead of running away, my gut instinct was to run back and try and help," Chris Parker told reporters following the deadly bombing of an Ariana Grande concert last year in Manchester. The 33-year-old homeless man said he rescued a young girl whose mother was killed and had another woman die in his arms. On Wednesday, Parker pleaded guilty to robbing the victims he claimed he was helping, AFP reports. He was accused of stealing a cellphone from a teen girl, and security footage shows him taking a purse from a woman whose granddaughter was dying nearby. Prosecutors say Parker later used the woman's bank card to buy food at McDonald's. While pleading guilty to those two thefts, Parker pleaded not guilty to additional charges of attempting to steal a coat and bag following the attack, according to the BBC.

Prosecutors say that while Parker did give "some limited assistance" to victims, he "equally" used the chaos following the attack to rob them. Parker's attorney says his client apologizes "for his appalling behavior." Parker was hailed as a hero following the attack—he says he was begging outside the venue when the bomb went off—and a GoFundMe created for him raised more than $70,000 from thousands of donors. The Guardian reports none of that money has yet gone to Parker, and a GoFundMe spokesperson says it "will be refunded." Parker was arrested Tuesday after failing to appear in court. He has reportedly received death threats following his arrest. He has previous convictions for burglary and shoplifting. (More robbery stories.)

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