COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - It was a moment of ministry that turned tragic for an 81-year-old Richland County man's family.
John Bagley, whose family said he was a Vietnam veteran who served God constantly, died after investigators with the Columbia Police Department say he was punched in the head by a man he was ministering to at Finlay Park back on Sept. 10, 2017.
Keith Bagley, John's son, said his father would preach as a member of Keepin' It Real Ministries to the homeless who gather at the park and would even carry stacks of McDonald's gift cards to pass around to the less fortunate.
Keith said John was attacked by 42-year-old Corey Todd, who asked for money from John, according to police. Keepin' It Real Ministries Pastor Oscar Gadsden called it a "sucker-punch," but said Todd appeared to have health issues that may have contributed to the incident.
"I believe that the young man who hit him has a mental condition," Gadsden said.
John, Keith said, immediately forgave Todd for the incident and didn't even talk about the attack.
However, John was found dead in his home on Sept. 26, according to the Columbia Police Department -- dead from blunt force trauma to the head received in connection with the incident.
Todd was initially charged with assault and battery, but his charge was upgraded to murder after John's death.
Despite his father's death, Keith said John truly died doing what he loved and he has no doubt where his father is now.
"He wanted to save as many people as he could save," Keith said. "He loved God. He passed that on to me, and I have a lot of compassion. I feel for this guy, I really do, but he should be on the street anymore. He shouldn't be. He took – he took something away from the world. He could have helped so many more people, and it's just unfair. It's just so unfair."
But Gadsden says the death also highlights an ongoing issue in the world today: the lack of help or awareness of mental health issues.
"It could happen at any time at anywhere because we have so many mentally ill people out there," Gadsden said.
John's death has even shaken Adj. Gen. Bob Livingston, who was a close friend of John's. Livingston said John's death is a huge loss to the community and he did everything he could to serve others.
Todd remains at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.