2 Shot at Church Wedding in New Hampshire, Police Say

 nytimes.com  10/12/2019 18:26:46  2  Aimee Ortiz

A coward walked into my familys church today and shot a bishop, a relative posted on Facebook.

ImageLaw enforcement officers outside the New England Pentecostal Ministries church on Saturday in Pelham, N.H.
Law enforcement officers outside the New England Pentecostal Ministries church on Saturday in Pelham, N.H.CreditCreditM. Scott Brauer for The New York Times

A gunman opened fire during a wedding ceremony on Saturday morning at a church in Pelham, N.H., injuring two people before he was subdued by guests attending the celebration, the police said.

A suspect was in custody, Police Chief Joseph Roark of the Pelham Police Department said at a news conference on Saturday afternoon.

The police received a call of an active shooter at 10:12 a.m. at the New England Pentecostal Ministries church, he said. Officers found a man and woman with gunshot wounds at the church. Other guests suffered minor injuries.

The identities of the gunman and victims were not publicly available. A motive for the shooting was not immediately known but the chief said the shooting did not appear random.

The Pelham police provided the church with active shooter training within the last year, Chief Roark said.

In a Facebook post, Neivia Choate wrote: A coward walked into my familys 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.

Pelham, which is more than 30 miles north of Boston and is near the Massachusetts border, has a population of just over 13,000.

The church and its bishop are well known in the African-American community of Lowell, Mass., said Darius Mitchell, who said his family was close with Bishop Choate. Mr. Mitchell said that Bishop Choate was being treated at Lowell General Hospital.

In a statement, the hospital said it had received one patient from the shooting and that person had been transferred to a hospital in Boston. It said it could not disclose any other details.

Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire wrote on Twitter that state officials were responding to the shooting scene, which remained very active.

The church was also scheduled to host a celebration of life service at noon for Luis Garcia, according to an obituary posted to Legacy.com and originally published in The Boston Globe on Monday. Mr. Garcia, a minister who, according to the obituary, was a member of New England Pentecostal Ministries, was shot and killed last week.

In an interview with television station WCVB, Geraldo Pagan said he had arrived at the church for the service for Mr. Garcia and was told by the police that everything has been canceled. He said he was shocked to see all the police activity as he pulled up to the church.

Im deeply disturbed to hear about the shooting in Pelham this morning, United States Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire wrote on Twitter. Today was supposed to serve as a celebration of the life of Minister Luis Garcia. This senseless violence cant continue  my prayers are with the victims of this terrible attack.

On Twitter, the New York Police Department Counterterrorism Bureau said it was closely monitoring the shooting incident at the New England Pentecostal church in Pelham, NH. A spokeswoman said the department routinely monitors shootings.

Ellen Barry contributed reporting.

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