A gunman opened fire during a Saturday morning wedding ceremony at a New Hampshire Pentecostal church, striking two people before fast-thinking guests “gang tackled” and “subdued the shooter” until police arrived, Pelham Police Chief Joseph Roark said.
The suspect has been arrested in the shooting at the New England Pentecostal Church, Roark said. He did not identify the suspect or provide a motive, but noted the incident was “not a random shooting.”
“A coward walked into my family’s church today at NEP New England Pentecostal Church and shot my uncle Bishop Stanley Choate I call for anyone that knows and believes and In the GOD we serve to get on your knees and pray for my family,” Neivia Choate, the niece of the church’s bishop, wrote on Facebook Saturday.
Police responded to the New England Pentecostal Church just after 10 a.m. to find a man and a woman suffering from gunshot wounds. Roark said churchgoers “tackled” the shooter just after he opened fire and detained him until authorities arrived to the scene.
Lowell General Hospital confirmed to The Daily Beast that one patient was transported there from the church shooting, but did not provide any details on their condition or injuries.
Roark said other guests suffered minor injuries, but did not provide any detail about how they were injured during the Saturday morning attack at the white, one-story church located about 30 minutes outside of Boston.
The State Police Major Crime Unit told The Daily Beast they are also involved in the investigation, but did not provide any details.
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu tweeted Saturday that “state officials are on scene assisting local first responders in the response and investigation of a shooting in Pelham, NH,” adding that the “incident remains a very active scene.”
The shooting comes as congregants were preparing Saturday for a “celebration of life” services for former ordained minister Luis Garcia who was found shot to death inside his home on October 1.
During the press conference, Roark did not make any connection between Garcia’s murder and the Saturday morning shooting.
“To have something like this in such a short span of time, from what happened last week, is just tragic,” one former parishioner told WBZ, about Garcia’s murder last month. WCVB reported one churchgoing who planned to attend the celebration of life even got call from his aunt saying “don’t come to the church, the Bishop has been shot.”