Chicago pastor and wife brutally attacked on South Side; parts of ears bitten off

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A beloved Chicago minister cleaning up outside his mother's property in Fernwood was brutally attacked and bitten by a man in the neighborhood.

Pastor Timothy Johnson and his wife Renee, a special education teacher, did not want to appear on camera due to their injuries, but were willing to share their account of the horrific attack.

Johnson said a man from the South Side neighborhood approached them and offered to sell them some watches. He declined. Then the man attacked him, suddenly and viciously, with the shovel he had been using.

Johnson said the man bit both of his ears, and when his wife tried to help she was also beaten and had both ears bitten.

"Physically, this is a tremendous blow to my wife and family," Pastor Johnson said.

"My life has been changed, 100%," said Renee Johnson.

The attack happened Saturday, May 1. Elijah Rule Prince, 28, is charged in the attacks.

In his first court appearance, the judge said he thought he was "listening to a horror movie," the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Prince allegedly bit off parts of the couple's ears. And when officers arrested him, he allegedly told them the blood he was covered in was not his but the "blood of peasants," Cook County prosecutors said.

Prince, who is undergoing a psychiatric examination at a hospital, was not present at his bond hearing Tuesday on aggravated battery and attempted murder charges.

After Prince attacked Pastor Johnson with a shovel, he punched him in the face, gouged his eyes with his fingers, bit his ears and the top of his head before spitting into the man's mouth, prosecutors said.

At one point, Prince stuffed a three-inch block into the pastor's left eye, prosecutors said.

Upon hearing the commotion, Renee Johnson ran outside, Prince allegedly pulled her hair and gouged her eyes with his finger. He also bit her ears, ripping off "large chunks," and spitting on her, prosecutors said. After she fell to the ground, Prince allegedly kicked her head multiple times.

The Pastor Johnson called 911 after he pulled the wooden object out of his eye. But Prince ran off after a witness came outside and yelled at him, prosecutors said. He was arrested nearby a short time later. Rule Hill Prince's mouth, face and elbows of his jackets were covered in blood, prosecutors said.

The Johnson family was shocked by the violence. And the couple, who have dedicated their lives to service, said this has been a blow to their bodies but not their spirits.

"We have come out of this, and we've come out of this for a reason. We may not know what the reason is right now, but we've come out of this," Renee Johnson said.

"I want to see justice for the individual situation that occurred, but I also want to see a greater sense of community come forth from this," said Pastor Johnson.

Pastor Johnson had actually temporarily stepped back from ministry as he's been battling cancer. The Johnson's children set up a GoFundMe page to help their parents cope with the additional, unexpected expenses.

Both of them have undergone surgeries, and will likely need more.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.
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