Barber says robbery reminds him of life's path

Published 02/08 2013 06:11PM

Updated 02/13 2013 12:35PM

URBANA -- A barber was robbed at gunpoint, but says he's "thankful" for the experience. As the suspect pointed a gun in his face, he says he stared into the eyes of his younger self. WCIA-3's Megan Brilley has more.

James Winston opened his barbershop several months ago. He thought it would be a safe area, but Wednesday night, he was robbed.

The boy wore a mask to hide his face. Little did he know, Winston knew exactly who he was.

"I like interacting with people. I like people."

Winston has been a barber for six years.

"I like to work on the inside of their heads while I'm working on the outside."

Winston loves getting to know his customers and offering a shoulder to lean on. But, his life hasn't always been this way.

"When I looked into his eyes, I saw fear, I saw distress. That was me."

Winston spent years in-and-out of prison for armed robbery.

"But, then something really marvelous happened. I had a life-changing event."

He decided to turn his life around. Now, he mentors young men in the community, hoping they choose a different path.

"I've cut hair in jails, I've cut hair in homeless centers, I've cut hair in Salvation Armys. One thing never seems to fail, when I get through and hand them that mirror, they smile."

The robber cleaned out Winston's cash register and his customers' money as well.

"I'm going to be honest with you. My first reaction was anger."

But, now Winston wants to let that boy know, he can make a change, just like Winston did.

"I'm growing from it. I'm really growing from it. I thank God for the experience."

The robber has not been arrested. He's described as a young, black man, about 5'8", 130 lbs. He was last seen wearing gloves, a black-hooded sweatshirt and a red bandana over his face.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers. You can remain anonymous and may earn a cash reward.

Champaign County Crime Stoppers
(217) 373 - TIPS
Text: Tip397 + info to CRIMES (274637)

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