An act of kindness nearly cost a Vicksburg priest his life Monday.
"He was hid in the bushes," Father Tom Lalor said to a friend.
Father Lalor has been describing his harrowing story to friends all day.
"Then he jumped out of the bushes in front of me on the walkway," he continued.
Father Lalor has been the pastor at St. Paul's Catholic Church in Vicksburg for five years.
"A lot of people are very poor and they know to come here," he said.
On Monday, one person in need decided the help being offered was not enough.
"He had already wanted money to go to Yazoo City so he could get a tank of gas, which I would have given him this morning," Father Lalor said.
52-year-old Thomas Lee Jiles came to Father Lalor in need of a place to stay and a tank of gas. Using the Church credit card, Father Lalor rented him a room at a nearby hotel.
"He was very calm when I took him over to the hotel and paid for him," he said.
But, according to Father Lalor, the next time he saw Jiles the calmness had been replaced by anger.
"He screamed and yelled at for all it was worth," Father Lalor said.
Father Lalor said he was heading home when Jiles, armed with a brick, jumped out of the bushes and threatened to kill him if he didn't give him $100.
"Fortunately I had a few dollars on me and I gave it to him," Father Lalor said. "Then he.. just.. he.. threw the brick in the bushes and went off with himself."
It didn't take long to track Jiles down. Police found him asleep in the hotel room that Father Lalor rented for him.
He was arrested and charged with armed robbery.
When asked if he would do it again?
"Every pastor helps people. And we help one another," Father Lalor said. "And it's all part of being a pastor, caring for the poorest of the poor. And sometimes maybe to the undeserving poor, that we might think is undeserving," he added with a soft smile.
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