On Aug. 7, Jude Peterson was selling lemonade with a friend in Peoria, Illinois.
It was a regular Friday for them, as they’d spent Fridays during the summer selling lemonade on a street corner.
It had been a rather slow day until around 5 p.m., when a car drove by and the occupants waved. It didn’t seem nefarious, and a few minutes later the car parked and two young men got out.
According to what Jude later told his father, Nathan, they came up and asked what he and his friend were selling. The two looked to be older than Jude and his friend, but it was unclear exactly how old they were.
But then things took a dramatic turn; according to Peterson and police, one of the robbers had a gun.
“One of them pulled out a gun and the other said, ‘Let me get your cash box,'” Nathan Peterson told the Peoria Journal Star. “They were kind of laughing about it.”
“The boys, I don’t think they could process what was happening at the moment. They were kind of stunned, like, ‘What’s going on?'”
The business-minded boy’s father also said that he was somewhat relieved that the two thieves were young people and not adults.
“If it was adults who did this, I think I’d be in a different place,” he said. “I know kids do really stupid things, and they do stupid things in nice neighborhoods, too, not just in struggling neighborhoods.
“The response from the community makes me feel like it’s still a safe place, but obviously I’m back-and-forth about it.”
It had been a slow day, so the thieves only made off with a grand total of $30, but what they intended for evil was turned into good by a caring community.
A nearby surveillance camera caught the interaction, and neighbors showed up to support the young entrepreneurs’ efforts when they set up shop again on the following Tuesday.
“A lot of really caring people kind of have risen up during this,” Peterson continued. “Unbelievable.”
Then the cops showed up. Officers formed a line down the street to buy lemonade, some of them paying $20 for their beverages.
One man bought chips and candy for the boys to add to their display, an act that Peterson called “beautiful.”
“The boys continued their lemonade stand today,” Peterson posted on Facebook. “The moment they opened, a parade of police cars, led by an armadillo, pulled up!
“SO MANY officers, including the Police Chief, surrounded the boys, handed them a gift of money they’d raised, and let them know that they have their backs. Then they all bought lemonades. I may have cried a little.”
“I’m feeling proud of Jude today,” he wrote on Facebook. “I’m also feeling proud of this community, and just generally proud of the human race at the moment.”
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