The most heart-warming tale of friendship between a victim and her attacker has emerged. Ian Manual, then 13-years-old, shot Tampa resident Debbie Baigrie in 1991. It went horribly wrong when the teen set out to rob her at a shopping center. Manual panicked and the gun went off. Baigrie was taken to a nearby hospital with a gunshot wound to her face.

13-year-old boy was neighborhood tough guy

The Tampa Bay police later arrested Manuel and received a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Baigrie had just given birth to her second child when the unfortunate incident occurred.

The shooter at that time was the neighborhood's tough guy, even though he was just thirteen. The boy’s mother had served time in prison, and that earned him the reputation of being fearless.

However, this remarkable tale of friendship and redemption began when he decided to reach out and call Debbie from prison. The strange gesture changed both their lives forever. Recently, Starbucks put the story on its YouTube channel as part of their Upstander series. His decision to reach out and call his victim was viewed as a selfless act by viewers.

The victim said she found it in her heart to forgive him because he was just a child. In the YouTube video, she expressed her sympathy for him. According to the woman, she also wanted closure so they both could move on from the incident.

The young man was helped by lawyer Bryan Stevenson from the Equal Justice Initiative. Stevenson said he decided to challenge the sentence because his client was a juvenile when he committed the crime.

Victim formed motherly bond with child attacker

The woman also attended the court hearing and spoke on his behalf. She told the court that she was against the harsh punishment, and agreed with the lawyer that it was unfair for a child offender.

At the hearing, Manual told the judge that he felt remorse for his action and was thankful that his victim had forgiven him.

Baigre also praised her attacker for the eloquent speech he presented before the judge, who took the victim’s statement into account and released the young man from prison. And since his release, their friendship has grown even stronger.

Now, she mentors him as a son. And, despite the crime he committed against her, she said she thinks of him as her own child.

The woman said even though he was responsible for his action, he certainly deserved a second chance at life. According to the victim, she felt compassion for a fellow human being, who made a terrible mistake as a young boy.