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Woman hurt in Riverwalk Augusta mugging asks forgiveness for assailants

Wednesday, May 8, 2013 6:25 PM
Last updated Thursday, May 9, 2013 12:59 AM
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Ashley Solesbee wants her attackers to come forward so there can be justice but also so she can talk to them and plead that they turn their lives around.

“I know they need the love of Jesus right now,” she said Wednesday at her church, Belvedere First Baptist.

Solesbee, 25, and her date, Wesley Spires, 27, both of South Carolina, were attacked with metal bats or pipes on Riverwalk Augusta about 11 p.m. Friday.

Police continue to search for the assailants, and a $10,000 reward from an anonymous donor was announced Wednesday afternoon by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.

Solesbee, who teaches autistic children and is a dance instructor at Rhythm and Class Dance in Belvedere, was released from the hospital Monday. Spires, who works in landscaping and is a volunteer at West Side Fire Department, remains in critical condition.

The couple, who met through mutual friends, were hoping to extend their first date a little longer when they chose to take a walk on the riverwalk.

The weather was pleasant that night, and Solesbee said a walk “just seemed like a good thing.”

They had already eaten at her favorite restaurant, Stevie B’s, and had been iceskating.

“I hadn’t been (skating) in years and he hadn’t been in years,” she said of the date. “We both clung to the walls.”

At the riverwalk, Solesbee said, she felt safe. Other people, including a wedding party, were there at the same time they were.

She chose not to discuss the actual attack, but said that afterward Spires remained a gentlemen, putting her care ahead of his own, even while covered in blood.

Police said Spires drove them to University Hospital for treatment.

Both had facial fractures and head wounds, and he had a broken hand.

“It’s just amazing God gave Wesley the strength to protect us,” she said of the man she called her “hero.” “It’s a miracle he got us there (the hospital).”

Solesbee hasn’t seen Spires since the attack but prays for him every day. Spires’ sister remains in contact to let her know as soon as she can visit.

“(Spires) is doing a little better,” Michelle Birt, a cousin, said Wednesday. “He is still in critical condition but slowly getting better.”

Birt said he’s still unconscious and in an induced coma.

Solesbee said that despite the physical and emotional pain and the “jitters” she still feels from the crime, she has already forgiven the attackers and asks the rest of the community to do the same.

“I never for one second felt anger or any ill will toward them,” she said.

Instead, she wants them to know that they have the opportunity to change their lives. She said God is using her to show the power of forgiveness.

Her mother has also forgiven them.

“If I don’t forgive them, then God won’t forgive my sins,” Lisa Solesbee said.

Birt said she is still confused as to why the crime occurred.

“We do not know if there are other intentions or if this was a hate crime, but we do know this was not just about money,” she said. “Even though they asked for money, it is not what they went after.”

REWARD OFFERED FOR INFORMATION

An anonymous donor on Wednesday offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the two men who used a metal bat or pipe in the attack on Wesley Spires and Ashley Solesbee.

The conditions of the reward are as follows:

• The money will be held by Phillip Scott Hibbard, PC.

• The reward recipient may not be an employee of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.

• If an arrest is made within 60 days, the reward will stay in trust via the law firm until conviction, provided that conviction occurs within 24 months.

• If no conviction occurs within 24 months, the reward is null and void.

• If no arrest is made within 60 days, the reward is null and void.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office at (706) 821-1080. Callers may remain anonymous.

– From staff reports

ACCOUNT FOR DONATIONS SET UP

Accounts have been set up to accept donations for a victim of the riverwalk attack.

Wesley Spires, 27, and Ashley Solesbee, 25, both of South Carolina, were robbed and attacked with a metal bat or pipe last Friday while on a bench near the former Fort Discovery. They were treated for facial injuries. Spires was admitted to University Hospital in critical condition after driving himself and Solesbee to the hospital after the attack.

Police continue to search for the perpetrators.

A Wesley Spires Donation Fund has been set up at Georgia Bank & Trust and Southeastern Bank & Trust.

– From staff reports

Comments (45) Add comment
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AutumnLeaves
8069
Points
AutumnLeaves 05/08/13 - 06:57 pm
11
1
I pray you never grace these

I pray you never grace these people with your presence unless you have an armed escort. You may have forgiven them, but it would not be wise to be around them unprotected. They don't think like you do.

internationallyunknown
4244
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internationallyunknown 05/08/13 - 09:29 pm
2
8
^

She has forgiven them, why can't you?

Gage Creed
17376
Points
Gage Creed 05/08/13 - 09:42 pm
11
1
Forgiveness is certainly Ms.

Forgiveness is certainly Ms. Solesbee's prerogative... justice is the preferred method of the most.

oldfella
620
Points
oldfella 05/08/13 - 10:06 pm
8
2
Really? The love of Jesus?

These robbers need the love of Smith and Wesson. Jesus had at least a couple of decades to turn these people around, and that didn't work out so far. Time to try another tactic it seems.

scoopdedoop64
2395
Points
scoopdedoop64 05/08/13 - 10:09 pm
15
2
Forgiveness

Forgiveness is what releases us from being bitter. Yes, these men need to be found and should face the punishment but Ashley has the right priority. Above all these men need Jesus so they can have a heart change. By forgiving these men Ashley does not let them continue to hold her spirit captive by seeking revenge. What a great example of Christian love!

LocalGirl
317
Points
LocalGirl 05/08/13 - 10:25 pm
2
11
Hate crime?

Why is this possibly a hate crime? Seems like just a random, violent attack based on what as been in the Chronicle.

oldfella
620
Points
oldfella 05/08/13 - 10:45 pm
20
1
A hate crime?

You're kidding, right? "Hate Crime" is a one-way street and we all know it. Reverse the races of attackers and victims and this incident would be national news, not just local.

scoopdedoop64
2395
Points
scoopdedoop64 05/08/13 - 10:52 pm
12
1
Oldfella, you are definitely

Oldfella, you are definitely right. It's sad but true. There are no specific rules that I am aware that defines a crime as a "hate crime". Therefore, its left to interpretation. And it seems that the interpretation is always for a certain race, a certain sexual orientation and/or political correct circumstance or situation. A crime is a crime period. Could we not say that all crime goes back to hate of the victim, hate of self, or hate of life's circumstances? I have met racists of every color and ethnic origin so I don't think it can only be interpreted as a "hate crime" if the perpetrator was a white male.

GiantsAllDay
9695
Points
GiantsAllDay 05/09/13 - 12:01 am
12
0
Mr. Spires seems like a top

Mr. Spires seems like a top notch guy. Wishing him a speedy and complete recovery.

burninater
9627
Points
burninater 05/09/13 - 02:24 am
11
0
dtstewart, your 11:26 comment

dtstewart, your 11:26 comment is a repulsive, truly disgusting sentiment.

The attack on these people was horrific.

The victim's decision to live up to her religious convictions shows a profound strength of character. You wishing her death is repugnant.

seenitB4
88167
Points
seenitB4 05/09/13 - 06:06 am
3
3
burn

We all have our moments...I've reached it myself at times...

diamond in the rough
45
Points
diamond in the rough 05/09/13 - 07:55 am
5
0
Woman hurt @ Riverwalk

Ashley you are an angel! Maybe Jesus brought you and Wesley together and placed you where you would speak his word. Things happen for a reason. Hope Wesley gets better soon. You are a remarkable person and angel. God Bless you!

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 05/09/13 - 08:22 am
1
1
I'd opt for "Wrath and fury

I'd opt for "Wrath and fury of God" but to each their own.

my.voice
4865
Points
my.voice 05/09/13 - 08:46 am
7
3
I do find it disturbing that

I do find it disturbing that not one story has focused on the racial component here, valid or not. Had this been a reversed situation, racially speaking, CNN, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would all have rooms at the Radison. Augusta would have been painted as a horrible place.

Its just a sad day in Augusta.

As for what needs to happen to these punks, my momma would "ring their necks" as she used to tell us.

GiantsAllDay
9695
Points
GiantsAllDay 05/09/13 - 09:38 am
5
3
My Voice: There is just one

My Voice: There is just one thing wrong with your theory. Al and Jesse would have rooms at the Ritz Carlton at Reynolds Plantation and then taken limos to Augusta.

Red Headed Step Child
4098
Points
Red Headed Step Child 05/09/13 - 11:12 am
5
0
I have to echo the sentiments

I have to echo the sentiments of other posters that compliment her on her faith. It is so easy to be a Christian in name only - where true faith shines is during difficult times like this - living the faith rather than just talking about it. Turning the other cheek and forgiveness aren't always easy to do...

I also think letting go and forgiving heals us faster than festering on anger and hate - but again, that sure is hard to do sometimes!

grouse
1635
Points
grouse 05/09/13 - 11:12 am
0
1
"It’s just amazing God gave
Unpublished

"It’s just amazing God gave Wesley the strength to protect us..." I personally think God could have been a little more proactive.

sewerbabe
71
Points
sewerbabe 05/09/13 - 11:27 am
3
1
Praying for the hand of God to heal Wesley

It is so brave and commendable to hear a woman so young with great faith has the power to forgive such horrible human beings. I would like to know how this has been classified as a hate crime and not just aggravated assault and robbery. Why? Because I want to write ole' Al Sharpton and see if he'll come down here and organize a march for justice for these two young people.

itsanotherday1
43774
Points
itsanotherday1 05/09/13 - 11:28 am
4
2
She is a better person than me by far.

I would wish death upon them, not salvation.

Bacon Grease
331
Points
Bacon Grease 05/09/13 - 12:56 pm
2
0
Charles Bronson.

They just haven't ran in to the right person yet. Richmond County Sherriff Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue is more concerned about playing smokey and the bandit than locking up the animals roaming Augusta.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 05/09/13 - 01:26 pm
2
0
No disrespect intended, but

No disrespect intended, but forgiveness where no forgiveness is requested or where there is not even an acknowledgement of regret/wrongdoing doesn't seem productive, nor appropriate. If it is simply a means to get closure for yourself, I can understand that.

harley_52
23634
Points
harley_52 05/09/13 - 01:45 pm
2
0
I Applaud Ms. Solesbee...

...and her Christian, charitable view toward the low-life criminals who attacked her and her friend.

She has my admiration, if not my understanding.

While Ms. Solesbee is free to hold such charitable, forgiving views, civilized society still has the responsibility to find these scum, punish them for what they have done, and keep the rest of us as safe as possible from suffering the same kind of crimes inflicted on us or our families.

While I am a Christian, I don't hold the same forgiveness and charity in my heart for this kind of behavior. I'm more the "eye for an eye" type of person.

Red Headed Step Child
4098
Points
Red Headed Step Child 05/09/13 - 02:28 pm
2
1
yeah..I'd say I've always

yeah..I'd say I've always been more of an "eye for an eye" person myself - but then I often wonder if people like Ms. Solesbee are placed in our path to teach us another way...as the saying goes, the Lord does work in mysterious ways...

karradur
2854
Points
karradur 05/09/13 - 02:32 pm
0
3
@harley_52

"While I am a Christian, I don't hold the same forgiveness and charity in my heart for this kind of behavior. I'm more the "eye for an eye" type of person."

That's funny, because this guy Jesus (you might have heard of him, he was sort of a big deal) once said:

"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." - Matthew 6:14-16

karradur
2854
Points
karradur 05/09/13 - 02:33 pm
0
3
Gosh.

For all the comments I see every day on the Chronicle website from a Christian worldview and in support of Christianity, you guys sure are mad at Ms. Solesbee for being a Christian. I don't get it!

harley_52
23634
Points
harley_52 05/09/13 - 02:34 pm
4
0
I Never Said...

...I was a perfect person, nor a perfect Christian. I am neither.

Further, I haven't asked for any advice on the issue.

Mind your own business.

InChristLove
22480
Points
InChristLove 05/09/13 - 03:04 pm
2
0
What??? karradur, who's mad

What??? karradur, who's mad at Ms. Solesbee for being a Christian?
I do agree with one thing you said, no, you don't get it.

karradur
2854
Points
karradur 05/09/13 - 03:10 pm
2
3
@harley_52

"Further, I haven't asked for any advice on the issue.

Mind your own business."

Don't make comments on a public forum next time~

grinder48
1976
Points
grinder48 05/09/13 - 03:12 pm
1
0
Spires = Hero
Unpublished

Wesley Spires is a hero. There's a fund raiser fo victims. Support it.

Saturday June 1
Westside Community Center 1842 Hwy 23 West across from Antioch Baptist Church - Edgefield SC

$9.00 a plate (Cash and Checks Only)

Make checks payable to: Wesley Spires Benefit Fund
Mail checks to 1502 Stephens Road NA,SC 29860 Attn: Bobby Allen

Choice of bbq chicken or pulled pork

Tickets go on sale 5/11-5/29

If you're one of the few people who don't like bbq your donations are still welcomed

Mr_Chin
47
Points
Mr_Chin 05/09/13 - 03:16 pm
0
4
Good one karradur!

When I saw @harley's comment...I was like "What the heck?!" Expect comments when you post on a forum....

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