ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - The son of a well-known community activist is recovering after he was shot several times outside a church in St. Paul, while attending a funeral service.
“I don’t want no parent ever to feel what I felt in the hospital yesterday,” John Thompson said.
Thompson is one of the most recognized activists in the state; he hardly misses a rally or protest regarding officer-involved shootings. On Monday, his son was shot outside a church during a funeral service for a family friend.
The 25-year-old was rushed to Regions Hospital with a bullet through his chest and another lodged in his spine. Thompson was not there, but minutes later he received the worst phone call of his life.
“Nobody wants to stand over their son and see this,” said John. “I’m watching them take the bandages off where the bullet went through his chest and it’s still there and then he had a bullet that went through his arm and came out of his armpit.”
One of the bullets is still stuck in DeMarco Thompson's spine.
It's unknown why DeMarco was shot or if the gunman knew about the community activism his father is so well-known for in the Twin Cities. Thompson became a very vocal critic of police officer shootings involving African-American men when one of his closest friends, Philando Castile, was shot and killed.
“Honestly I’m feeling stupid because I’m sitting here saying the police are doing this to my brother, the police are doing this to my people—and I’m always saying that, and then you do this to my people,” Thompson said.
Thompson said the knee-jerk reaction for young African-American men to pick up a gun to solve their differences is an epidemic that needs to be stopped now.
“City officials can’t fix the problem, I know that police can’t fix the problem,” he said. “I know to fix the problem with these young kids and these guns shooting each other - I know in order to fix that problem - it’s going to take us.”
Thompson said he won't give up his fight for police accountability and justice, but his message clearly needs to be redirected to the next generation.
“I don’t know if I can stop doing the work that I’m doing, but I think I need a pause button right now—because my son is not well, and I need to be a dad right now,” he said.
DeMarco is scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday to remove the bullet from his spine.
St. Paul police said they have not arrested anyone yet.