Chris Parker was considered one of the inspirational figures to come out of a horrifying tragedy, a “hero” that ran towards danger to help others.
— ITV News (@itvnews) May 23, 2017
As the BBC reports, on May 22, Salman Abedi bombed an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. Twenty-two people died and many more were injured. Out of the stories of horror and loss came the inspiring story of Chris Parker, a homeless man credited with comforting and aiding the victims.
Parker was widely lauded for his actions. In interviews, he spoke about holding one woman as she died of her injuries. A GoFundMe campaign raised more than $70,000 to help him escape the streets. But Parker was modest about his heroic actions. He told ITV News:
“Just because I’m homeless, it doesn’t mean that I haven’t got a heart and I’m not human still. […] It had to be done. You had to help. If I didn’t help, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.”
Unfortunately, Parker’s actions on that night turned out to be less heroic than advertised.
As the Guardian reports, the 33-year-old pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and one count of fraud stemming from his actions that night. While Parker was there with the victims of the Manchester attack, he was also robbing them.
According to the Manchester Evening News, closed-circuit video shows Parker walking around among the victims, and repeatedly coming back to Pauline Healey, whose granddaughter was dying. Healey had also suffered multiple fractures and injuries from shrapnel, and Parker eventually leaned over her body and removed the wallet from her purse.
The video also shows Parker comforting a teenage girl as he walks around with his phone. But he also rifled through coats and other belongings. He has since admitted to stealing a phone belonging to a teen girl who has not yet been identified. And he later used Healey’s bank card at a local McDonald’s.
Stealing from the victims wasn’t the only distasteful thing Parker did after the bombing. Had the case gone to trial, prosecutors planned to display photos Parker had taken of the injured and dying. Parker later tried to sell the photos to the media.
The BBC reports that prosecutors conceded Parker did offer “some limited assistance” to the victims, but also took advantage of the chaos to commit theft. Parker has previous convictions for theft and shoplifting, and his attorney told the court:
“All he can do in the circumstances is first of all plead guilty and apologize for his appalling behavior that evening.”
Parker will be sentenced on January 30. In an update on GoFundMe, the campaign organizer announced that all the donations made to Parker will be returned.