Christopher Rodriguez
Christopher Rodriguez, a 12-year-old boy paralyzed by a robber's stray bullet as he was taking a piano lesson in Oakland last year, had a message for the gunman who shot him, "I forgive you."
Christopher delivered his words after rolling in his wheelchair to the front of the Oakland courtroom on Tuesday June 16, 2009 where the shooter Jared Adams, 26, had just been sentenced to 70 years to life in prison. Then he shook the convicted man's hand. Adams received a stiff sentence for wounding Christopher and committing other crimes 18 months ago that left him with a dozen felony convictions. The crime binge included the carjacking at gunpoint of then-state Senate leader and current Oakland mayoral candidate Don Perata.
"I know it wasn't your intention to shoot me, but remember - actions always have consequences," Christopher said. "Two of the bullets almost hit my mom. You could have killed my piano teacher, other students, yourself, your girlfriend and just normal people nearby."
During a gas station robbery Jan. 10, 2008, a drunken Adams fired three shots. Two of his shots went across the street to the Harmony Road Music School which is located along Oakland's busy and normally safe Piedmont Avenue corridor. One of the shots penetrated the school's wall and severed Christopher's spine.
Because of his powerful act of forgiveness, Christopher Rodriquez, will be awarded the Hero of Forgiveness, Reconciliation and Peace Award at the 13th Annual International Forgiveness Day Awards Ceremony.