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story.lead_photo.caption Philip Wise

Maj. Philip Wise, a big teddy bear of a man according to those close to him, worked for three years in the very neighborhood he was gunned down in.

The 40-year-old father of three joined the Salvation Army along with his wife, Cindy, 16 years ago, and they had spent the past few years reaching out to those in the Baring Cross neighborhood. The North Little Rock center provides youth programs, weekly church services and Sunday School and a food pantry, among other services.

Police don’t know whether Wise, who was active in the community, knew his attackers, he said.

Wise was returning to that Salvation Army center at 1505 W. 18th St. with his children Thursday afternoon when two black men, both with handguns, approached him and demanded money. One shot was fired, and Wise was killed as his children stood by. His wife, who was in the center at the time, was the one to call 911.

The family was about to leave for a Christmas trip to West Viriginia.

Wise remembered for his outreach in NLR neighborhood

Salvation Army major shot

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"It's such a tragedy for the community," said Sgt. Terry Kuykendall with the North Little Rock Police Department. "I hope they realize the loss."

Maj. Harvey Johnson, Wise's boss for the past year and a half, said Wise was an all-around good guy, a big teddy bear who loved sports. With Wise's children and Johnson's grandchildren around the same age, they shared many birthday celebrations together with their families.

The Wises had just adopted their children — ages 4, 6 and 8 — last year, Johnson said. The three were siblings who came from an abusive family. They were receiving counseling after their father’s death, he said.

“He was involved in the fabric of that community in a lot of different ways,” Johnson said.

He described Wise as “a big boy” who played “a big old tuba” in a brass ensemble and used his love of music to try help others.

“He encouraged kids in music as an alternative to the life they were living,” he said.

Kuykendall said he knew Wise, although they were not close friends.

“Mr. Wise within the last two months had spent so much time raising money so that several hundred children in this community could have a good Christmas, and for this to happen ... on Christmas Eve is just a tragedy,” he said.

Wise was originally from Weirton, W.Va., and his wife, Cindy, was from Charleston, W.Va. They met 16 years ago at a Salvation Army school in Atlanta, Johnson said. Both had worked for the Salvation Army ever since.

“He’s touched a lot of people,” Johnson said. “But who would he have touched if he had been able to live out his career?”

Authorities are hoping anyone with information into the shooting comes forward. Crimestoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for an arrest and conviction in Wise's shooting. The Crimestoppers number is (501) 758-1234.

The Salvation Army said any donations made in Wise's name will go toward music instruction at the organization's summer camp.

A Wise Family Memorial Fund will be set up soon, according to Kathy Barbeire with the Salvation Army.

Information for this article was contributed by Tom Parsons of The Associated Press.


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  • Poorboy
    December 25, 2009 at 12:38 p.m.

    RIP. What a tragedy.

  • sidehack
    December 25, 2009 at 4:05 p.m.

    This is the MOST Vile behavior anyone could ever exhibit.
    The G.I.s only true friend in a combat zone is The Salvation Army, the Red Cross asks you to sign a repayment
    plan paper. The Salvation Army gives the G.I. anything they
    can without any strings attached. The perpatrators of this heinious crime deserve 'Cruel and Unusal Punishment' to say the least.

  • kjlintner
    December 25, 2009 at 4:14 p.m.

    Horrible situation. I grew up with the Salvation Army. My grandmother was an office worker for the SA in PA, and I later worked as a bell-ringer and youth worker. No organization cares for their community like the Salvation Army. The unsubs in this atrocity need to be removed from the planet, not just the community. I'm sure Major Wise would disagree and ask them to be forgiven, but he was a better person than I could ever hope to be.

    God Bless the Wise family.

  • dimplesnsuch
    December 25, 2009 at 4:24 p.m.

    It's a tragic story and my heart and prayers go out to the family. But the race of the assailants dosen't matter.
    Poor, rich, middle class and everone in between is capable of killing...these cold hearted monsters didn't kill this man because they are black or he was white. These type of people will kill anyone and believe me they will be caught...don't buy into the no snitch belief being indicative of people living in the "ghettos" or the black community. Remember now a lot of white people no snitched on Bernie Madoff or the whites that ran the insurance/banking institutions that made out like fat cats knowing what they were doing was wrong. This is not a time to use this man's killing as justification for dropping the n-word because the killers are black. Let's be smarter than that and pray for the major's family.

  • M1911
    December 25, 2009 at 4:34 p.m.

    I am from Utah but this story really angers me and at the same time makes me sad. Forever more this man's family will remember Christmas as the day their father and husband was violently taken from them.

    If you want to find the killers real quick make them worth more dead than alive. Everybody in the world will be looking for them.

    Finally, I want to express my sincere condolonces to the family of this obviously big hearted, loving and caring man. May he rest in peace.

  • drt0809
    December 25, 2009 at 4:59 p.m.

    You know Brett, something I have noticed about Fox News. When a black person is responsible they never write it was a black person who committed the crime. BUT when a white person does something wrong, not only do the write it was a white person they even post a picture of who it was.

  • billh
    December 25, 2009 at 5:10 p.m.

    White, black, whatever... it matters only that they are caught, and put down. Hanging in public square is how it should to be done. Liberals who cry about the death penalty need to shut the hell up. These killers choose the death penalty when they murder innocent people. They need to die.

  • rememberthealamo
    December 25, 2009 at 5:27 p.m.

    Mark my words. These two savage animals had Christmas dinner with momma today and all is well. When they are caught their mother will say they are just misunderstood and/or I could not get them to take their medications. Within twenty four hours of Major Wise's murder, over 25 to 50 people will know but none will report. There is a unspoken unwritten code in the black community that you do not turn in your friends or family. The prosecuting attorney needs to start prosecuting those individuals that had knowledge and did not report. I am willing to pay more taxes for more prison space to lock momma and anybody else up that have knowledge of this heinous crime. What savages. They need the death penalty and the syringe needs to be a five gallon one. These savages are not through. Now that they have killed they will have a blood lust and kill again. Enough is enough. If you have information on these two savages you need to call crime stoppers now. May God comfort the Wise family.

  • BoyceBlan
    December 25, 2009 at 5:37 p.m.

    If it does not matter what race they are, why do we have hate crime laws? He was chosen because he was white.

  • drt0809
    December 25, 2009 at 5:44 p.m.

    All I can say is there is a war coming....