Santa Claus was shot twice in the upper back with a pellet gun on Tuesday morning during a toy drive for some 800 needy children. The shooting took place in Washington, D.C., during the 22nd annual toy giveaway at Barry Farm, before old Kris Kringle had even had the chance to hand out one gift.
As Xavier Hawkins, 50, walked down the street at approximately 9:15 a.m., dressed as Santa Claus and delivering toys, he heard a “pop” and immediately felt sharp pain. Video of the incident shows Santa walking and waving to the crowd. He is heard saying, “This is awesome” as he turns and waves to neighborhood children. Before he can complete the words “Merry Christmas,” he turns around, shouts and exclaims that he thinks he has been shot in the back with a pellet gun.
Before being taken to the hospital, in true Santa Claus fashion, Santa said, “We could hear it coming out the window — muffled, boom — they didn’t get hit. I’m glad I got hit and no one else got hurt.”
According to police, the shots were fired from the second story of an apartment building nearby. Eyewitnesses report hearing two gunshots.
Luckily, firefighters and police officers were already on the scene to help Santa give out toys and were able to provide him first aid immediately for a large welt. Among the neighborhood children and organizers present were Hawkin’s grandson, 10, his nephew and three daughters. Santa was taken to a hospital where one pellet was removed. He is safely recovering.
Hawkins, who drives truck for Interstate moving company, has made an appearance at Barry Farm for seven years running and had to be convinced to leave for treatment.
The toy drive, in conjunction with the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program, continued without Santa Claus due to an unlikely hero – The Grinch himself, who stepped in to take over the distribution of the gifts, but only after police had interviewed him and cleared him of being the shooter.
Hawkin’s employer, Interstate, sponsors the toy drive every year at Barry Farm, where it was founded in 1943. In 1971, even after moving its base of operations to Springfield, Va., the company maintains its philanthropic efforts in the neighborhood, which has a low-income population and a high crime rate.
Bud Morrissette, current president of Interstate, believes that the shooting wasn’t intended to cause real harm to Santa Claus. “I think it was a juvenile doing a juvenile type of thing.”
>After being released from the hospital, Hawkins returned to the toy drive just in time to see the last of the presents given away. Neighborhood families came out of their homes in order to offer his support. The organizers pledge that the toy drive will continue next year at the same location. Santa Claus himself maintains that despite being shot during this toy drive, he will absolutely be back for next year’s event. Oh, and someone had better notify Fox News. Santa Claus is definitely black.
By Jennifer Pfalz