Man in Santa Claus suit shot in DC with pellet gun - KMSP-TV

Man in Santa Claus suit shot in DC with pellet gun

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Xavier Hawkins in a Santa Claus suit in the toy giveaway last year Xavier Hawkins in a Santa Claus suit in the toy giveaway last year
Xavier Hawkins in a Santa Claus suit in the toy giveaway last year Xavier Hawkins in a Santa Claus suit in the toy giveaway last year
WASHINGTON -

A man dressed as Santa Claus was shot in the back with a pellet gun on Christmas Eve as he waved to children in his company’s annual toy giveaway.

Xavier Hawkins was leading the way down Stevens Road in Southeast D.C. when someone fired as many as three shots.

The 50-year-old is doing okay Tuesday night -- thankful he was hit and not any of the children who were around him. Hawkins was briefly hospitalized before being released in the early afternoon.

The Interstate Van Lines employee was playing the role he plays every year when someone tried to ruin Christmas.

For 22 years, Interstate Van Lines has worked with the Marines to make Christmas just a little bit brighter for the children who live in Barry Farm.

But just after 9 a.m. Christmas Eve, someone tried to darken the day.

"By the time we got to the fire truck and they took the Santa jacket off, there was a hole in my back, in the other layer of clothes I had on, so that changed everything for me,” said Hawkins. “And they pulled up my other shirt, another layer and there was a hole in that, and when they pulled my shirt up, there was blood.”

The wounded Santa talked to FOX 5 by phone a few minutes after his release from the hospital.

"Thank God it happened to me and it didn't happen to no other kids who were out there alongside me doing a good deed for the community,” he said.

The shooting did not stop the giveaway. All the toys were handed out and the ones who were not home when the trucks came through got their toys at a nearby community center.

"This is really a shock to us what happened right here,” said co-organizer Linda Miller. “I don't know (who did this), but I would like to know.”

Miller and Nella Petterson have been part of the giveaway since its inception -- both of them heartsick over the shooting.

"There is a lot of sadness which I understand because of the children and they love Santa. Hopefully it will get better,” said Petterson.

Others were furious with what happened.

"If you all go to the hospital and interview him and let him know on behalf of Barry Farm residents, we are sorry about what happened to Santa Claus today," said Barry Farm resident Michelle Hamilton.

The sponsor of the giveaway, Interstate Van Lines, says they have never had an incident like this in 22 years and they vow to be back again next year.

D.C. police say there were no direct witnesses to the assault, so there is no description of the shooter. At this point, investigators are not even sure where the pellets were fired from.

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