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Debbie Baigrie is sharing her story of forgiveness and the amazing friendship she has formed with the man who shot her in the face when he was a teenager.

Baigrie was visiting Tampa in Florida in 1991 when she was shot by 13-year-old Ian Manuel as he was attempting to rob her but he panicked and fired his gun.

Their unique story has been shared by Starbucks on its YouTube Channel as part of its Upstander series. In the video, Debbie describes her disbelief over being shot by a kid.

At the time of the shooting, young Ian already had a reputation in his neighborhood for being troublesome and his mother also had a prison record.

“I had built a reputation as someone who was fearless. It didn’t matter that I was the youngest, I was given a gun,” he said.

During the shooting in July 1991, Debbie said: “It was the first time I had been out since my second baby. I saw these three guys walk up to the car. I was not really paying attention to them, one of them asked me ‘have you got any change’, then I heard from behind me someone say ‘I’m serious, give it up’.”

For the crime, Ian was sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole.

In the video, he describes how he found Debbie’s telephone number and decided to call her shortly before Christmas in 1991.

“I’m glad I had followed my heart and picked up the phone that day because if not I would have missed out on a truly special friendship,” Ian said.

Debbie says her decision to accept his call from prison has also been life-changing.

“I forgave him because he was a child. I used this to make my life better and to refocus,” she said.

Debbie would later work with a lawyer from the Equal Justice Initiative to challenge the legality of life sentences without parole for minors. She even supported Ian and court and spoke against what she saw as an unfair punishment.

“I told the judge that me and Debbie have been waiting for years for the judicial system to catch up to my remorse and her forgiveness. I was released that night,” said Ian.

Now that he’s out of prison, their friendship has blossomed.

“Our relationship spans so many years from childhood to adulthood, that he’s almost like my child,” she said. “I’m not saying he wasn’t responsible for his actions, but when you are 13 you should be given the opportunity to change, to grow. What I feel is compassion for another human being.”

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20 thoughts on “Woman Befriends Man Who Shot Her When He Was 13

  1. she should definitely not support him. he is pure evil and would be so happy right now if she died. but she didn’t so he has to say whatever bs he can to try and save himself. in reality, he is a racist pig and tried to kill a white woman. what does that say about you? we, should kneel against you?

  2. Christianforreal on said:

    jhuf how many white boys are running around with guns shooting people? When you finish counting, compare that number with the one you’ve come up with for the number of black boys that are running around with a gun shooting people. Oh, what did you say? You have no idea! I’m not surprised. You have NO IDEA!!! Don’t make grandiose statements that you can’t validate!

  3. See, you are using race to make a division….like 13-year old white boys don’t commit crimes. You are being exemplary of my point in my previous comment….stop it!!!

    • specialt757 on said:

      I’ll have to watch the video shortly, however, what I read here was an amazing story of forgiveness. This reminds me of stories of hope and inspiration for people who’ve been locked up for crimes they’ve committed and don’t deny committing, but still hold out hope that they one day will be given another opportunity on the outside to get it right. Prayer changes things, “something” may have told him to just reach out to this woman and ask for forgiveness, nothing more, and that one thing changed his entire future. Good job, I love this story.

      • specialt757 on said:

        Ok, saw the video. So now I can say that one phone call changed his life completely. It took 24 years to change his address but, the call and her response gave him hope and sometimes hope is all we need to keep us going one more day. I’m so glad she forgave him and fought for him to get a second change. At the time of this video he was 40 y.o, still young enough to have a successful life. Good luck and my God bless the both of them and all involved in his release.

  4. I, too hate sometimes that race always has to come into play; however, here, I think it is a positive thing in that it shows beyond that thing of “skin color,” as human beings we all live, breath, and if we don’t let evil overtake us, have an inherent sense of compassion for each other. This set of circumstance, I find to be a living example of what humanity should, and is all about. Peace.

  5. good story and to answer the question “Why use RACE?” because race is always the underlying reason why the criminal justice system has been unfair to so many African-Americans. Clearly a life sentence “without” parole was way far to harsh of a sentence. This guy did 25+ years in jail for a shooting. You and both know if this was a white 13 year boy who shot a the women he would not have gotten life sentence “without” parole. That’s why Chuck!

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