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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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David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 05/09/13 - 03:16 pm
3
0
Easy now.

ACH fuzz will run up in here and flex if yall don't simmer down.

karradur
2848
Points
karradur 05/09/13 - 03:18 pm
1
3
@David Parker

I'm more afraid of whoever is on the Riverwalk attacking random people than the ACES.

InChristLove
22420
Points
InChristLove 05/09/13 - 03:24 pm
2
0
Matthew 15:11 "It is not what

Matthew 15:11 "It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”

Sean Moores
832
Points
Sean Moores 05/09/13 - 03:29 pm
5
0
@ karradur

I would hope you are more afraid of them. I will however block your commenting privileges if you aren't respectful to other commenters.

You don’t have to address anyone in our comments, but if you do, you have to be respectful.

karradur
2848
Points
karradur 05/09/13 - 04:18 pm
4
1
@Sean Moores

You've put up with a lot from me, but I feel like this is one thing I have to stand up for myself about. Harley_52 can believe whatever he wants and do whatever he wants, but if he willingly makes a comment as contradictory as "I am a Christian but I don't believe in forgiveness" and then wants to get upset with me that I not only pointed out the fallacy in his logic but that I commented on what he said in the first place, then he might be better off not commenting at all.

I don't think I've ever mentioned my religious beliefs on the Chronicle website (that I can remember) because I don't want them to be a topic of discussion.

The fact is, while my personal religious beliefs are wildly disparate from Ashley Solesbee's, her statement has a lot of meaning and truth behind it, especially in light of the surprisingly violent comments made on this story such as "these robbers need the love of Smith and Wesson" and "our society will be better off if [they] just drown in your own excrement".

But we don't have a problem with statements expressing a desire for the deaths of the suspects, apparently. Because criminals can never be rehabilitated, reformed, or forgiven, I guess?

AutumnLeaves
6020
Points
AutumnLeaves 05/09/13 - 05:26 pm
2
0
What makes you think...

Internationallyunknown, what made you jump to the conclusion that I had not forgiven them? I find no fault with her for anything and especially not for forgiving them; I am just concerned for her safety. I do find fault with you jumping to the conclusion that I hadn't forgiven them. I just want her and readers to understand that her forgiveness does not mean they will change or that they should not be held accountable. Justice within the laws is required. Something is deeply wrong with people that will assault others unprovoked and it must be addressed. From the ferocity of the injuries, it seems, in my opinion, this could be attempted murder.

internationallyunknown
3932
Points
internationallyunknown 05/09/13 - 05:34 pm
2
2
Your "thems" and "theys"

Your "thems" and "theys" seemed, to me, you have not forgiven "them".

Just my opinion.

harley_52
22205
Points
harley_52 05/09/13 - 05:43 pm
3
2
Karradar Deceitfully Quotes Me As Saying....

"I am a Christian but I don't believe in forgiveness." I never said that. The quote is invented.

What I did say was "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."

What kind of person makes up a quote that is not true? The posts still exist for anybody interested to check it out.

I am a Christian. I am an imperfect Christian. I do not possess the level of forgiveness that Ms. Solesbee has demonstrated in this circumstance and I have praised her for that.

I don't believe that should require me to endure the deceitful misrepresentations made by karradur, nor have to listen to his/her holier than thou advice to me about what a Christian is, or isn't. I already know.

Sean.....the ball is in your court here.

seenitB4
81577
Points
seenitB4 05/09/13 - 06:02 pm
3
0
Geez

We have 2 people beaten to a pulp & we are worried about the "punks" & if some will forgive them..the man is still in the hospital & who knows how long they will suffer from these injuries....
Let me be clear...I don't forgive them & I wish the man had been armed with that 38 smith & wesson.
Let us worry about the innocents for a change..

seenitB4
81577
Points
seenitB4 05/09/13 - 06:17 pm
3
0
AL I agree 100% on this

Something is deeply wrong with people that will assault others unprovoked and it must be addressed. From the ferocity of the injuries, it seems, in my opinion, this could be attempted murder.

EXACTLY

KSL
121885
Points
KSL 05/09/13 - 06:24 pm
2
1
The problem is, seenit, there

The problem is, seenit, there is no way he could be armed and be legal. He was from SC. In this instance, SC has it right and GA is wrong.

seenitB4
81577
Points
seenitB4 05/09/13 - 06:31 pm
3
0
ksl

I agree with anotherday about that rule.....I will worry about that when & if I have to shoot.....my life means more than a law about carrying a gun ....

Some are trying to hijack this convo by making others feel guilty if they don't forgive these jerks...THAT is what is wrong with our nation right now......,start shooting them when something like this happens.....maybe ..just maybe we can stem the tide.......they could give a rats behind if that man & woman died......or the expenses they will be burden with for YEARS...

itsanotherday1
40294
Points
itsanotherday1 05/09/13 - 06:44 pm
3
0
Amen seenit

Start sending them for an eternal celestial dirt nap and you will see this behavior decrease. Since we, as a society, won't address the root causes, victims/potential victims need to treat the symptoms. You can bet your sweet bippy that with a minority sheriff and minority commissioners, there will not be any kind of "get tough" measures; because the majority of the perpetrators are also minority and they have a certain empathy for them.

seenitB4
81577
Points
seenitB4 05/09/13 - 06:50 pm
3
0
thank you anotherday

We have a HUGE problem in the US....we all know it......the police can't be everywhere, now can they..

See yall in the am....I don't want to get so reved up I can't go to sleep tonight...

seenitB4
81577
Points
seenitB4 05/09/13 - 06:54 pm
3
0
BTW

There was a big article in the AJC about this incident...it said that Rtree had measures going in but he wasn't going to go public with them......we shall see as time goes on....I really think the Mayor should have stepped up with something.

itsanotherday1
40294
Points
itsanotherday1 05/09/13 - 06:57 pm
3
0
Karradur

Rehabilitation and a brutal attack are apples and oranges. I would hope that once incarcerated they would see the light and come out better than they went in. However, had they attacked me that way I would be wishing death upon them, and would have inflicted it had it been my wife and I sitting there.

CobaltGeorge
150493
Points
CobaltGeorge 05/09/13 - 08:27 pm
0
2
itsanotherday

Thanks for saving me the trouble of saying what I wanted to say on this issue.

"BANG"

dwb619
87007
Points
dwb619 05/09/13 - 08:28 pm
0
0
armed

South Carolina CWP holders may "legally" carry in Georgia. But you must possess a non-resident Cwp from a state that reciprocates with Georgia. Florida is one, I have been told that Oregon is the best choice now. I don't know which is preferable. Mine is from Florida. Check with your CWP instructor or SLED.

oldfella
599
Points
oldfella 05/10/13 - 06:54 am
0
0
Forgiveness and rehabilitation for these two?

I can sort of see forgiveness, just as I would forgive a rabid dog if it bit me.
But I would also put that rabid dog down, because there is no hope for it at that point. These two are a threat to humanity, past the tipping point of being functional humans, cut and dried. So we shouldn't put them down for revenge, just for practical purposes. Because once released from prison, they will continue to commit violent crimes. Those who believe in rehabilitation need to offer their homes to the suspects once released from prison!

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