In May, the city of Manchester in the United Kingdom was struck by a terrorist suicide bombing. The site was the Manchester Arena after a concert by singer Ariana Grande. Easily recalled by many is the compassion show by the music artist for the victims and the city as a whole. This was manifest in the magnificent “One Love Manchester” benefit concert spearheaded by Grande herself in the following month of June. But there were other heroes involved. Beyond the police and emergency responders were concerned civilians like Chris Parker, a homeless man who tried to offer comfort to the shell-shocked victims that night.

Now, however, he faces criminal charges consisting of allegations that he stole items from some of the people he helped.

Sham hero?

33-year-old Chris Parker, a vagrant with no permanent address, was taken into custody following the filing of charges against him regarding certain missing items on the evening of the Manchester Arena bombing. He stands accused of stealing a purse and its contents from an elderly woman, Pauline Healey. Her granddaughter Sorrell Leczkowski, 14 and from Leeds, was one of the youngest fatalities of the blast. In addition, another teenager present at the Area alleges that Parker also stole her mobile phone while he was moving through the crowd of victims and “helping out.”

On Tuesday, August 15, Parker was charged at the Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court with two counts of theft from the May 22 bombing and was then remanded into police custody.

When asked to respond to the accusations the homeless Mancunian denied having stolen anything during his actions that night. “I’ve done nothing,” he said. “I’ve done absolutely nothing. All I was doing was helping people.”

Going to trial

When a radicalized British Muslim detonated an explosive device at the Manchester Arena three months ago, Chris Parker and another homeless man, Stephen Jones, were close to the location and decided to pitch in with assisting the wounded and shocked victims from Ariana Grande’s concert.

Both men got ample news attention, especially Parker who was seen cradling a woman who would die of her wounds and offering words of comfort to a girl who lost her legs in the blast.

Parker will next be at the Manchester Crown Court to defend himself on September 13. A GoFundMe account was established in his name after the Arena bombing but there has been no word as to how the accumulated funds – $64,000 in all – will be given to Parker should he need it.