A New Hampshire wedding was interrupted by gunfire Saturday morning, with two people wounded and taken to nearby hospitals while the wedding guests “gang-tackled” the suspect and held him until police arrived, WCVB reported.
A witness told the New Hampshire Union-Leader that the New England Pentecostal Church’s pastor, Stanley Choate, was one of the two people shot and that the incident could be related to the murder of another of the church’s pastors earlier this month.
There were no fatalities.
Pelham police have released very little information about the shooting, except to say that officers arrived within three minutes, arrested the suspect, and provided aid to those wounded until emergency services arrived. They also said the shooting did not appear to be random, although they had not released the names of victims or the suspect by late Saturday afternoon.
Pelham Police Chief Joseph Roark said a third person was also injured, apparently during the takedown of the suspect, and taken to a hospital and that others who participated in the takedown suffered minor injuries, according to WMUR.
“From my understanding, they basically gang-tackled him,” Roark said.
The shooter arrived after the wedding began shortly after 10 a.m. and used a handgun, he said. The church had recently undergone active shooter training, Roark added.
Roark said that one of the people shot was taken to Lowell General Hospital in Massachusetts, and a spokesman there said the patient had been transported to Boston. The other gunshot victim and the person with minor injuries were taken to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua. A spokesman there said a woman with a gunshot wound was in stable condition and a man was treated and released for minor injuries, according to the Union-Leader.
The Union-Leader reported that church member Janail Archer told the paper that she had spoken with her father, Othniel Archer, a deacon at the church who was there at the time of the shooting. She said her father told her he saw a man in a hoodie enter the church from his vantage point in a balcony used for videotaping. The man walked to the pulpit, Archer told his daughter, and shot church pastor Choate and a woman.
Choate’s niece Neivia Choate posted on Facebook that her uncle was among the victims.
Archer also told the paper her father recognized the shooter as the stepson of Luis Garcia, a New England Pentecostal Ministries pastor from Manchester who was fatally shot in Londonderry on October 1. As CrimeOnline reported earlier, a celebration of life for Garcia was to be held at the Pelham church at noon. Brandon Castiglione, 24, of Londonderry, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the shooting. Castiglione was reportedly known by Garcia, as the pastor had apparently tried to help him. The service for Garcia was cancelled after the shooting, and police have not confirmed this connection.
The wedding, Archer said, was for Castiglione’s father, Mark Castiglione.
All services at the Pelham church have been cancelled through October 20.
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[Feature image: Stanley and Ruth Choate/New England Pentecostal Ministries Facebook]