A pastor from Salinas, California, is being remembered by his community after reportedly being murdered by a parishioner.
Pastor Herbert Valero, 68, of Victory Outreach Church was purportedly praying Tuesday night with a man named Servando Ayala Silva when Valero was allegedly stabbed in the neck; the preacher died before making it to the hospital, KSBW-TV reported.
Silva, who police said was with Valero outside his home when the incident unfolded, has pleaded not guilty to homicide charges. The pastor reportedly identified Silva as the attacker before he died, Mercury News reported.
A motive in the case is unclear and answers might be tough to come buy, as Salinas Police Commander Stanley Cooper said that it was just Silva and Valero outside when the attack unfolded.
“That’s one of the things we’re not sure if truly we’re ever going to be able to answer,” he told Mercury News. “At the time of the stabbing, it was only the two of them that were out in front of the pastor’s house.”
Valero is known for pastoring and ministering to the homeless and incarcerated, with some of the very people he rescued from the throws of poverty and despair speaking out in shock over what unfolded.
Chianne Gonzalez was among those who lamented Valero’s death, telling KSBW-TV that she was addicted to heroin and imprisoned when Valero came alongside her and helped her change her life.
“I was pregnant, addicted, and in jail. I mean, who reaches out to that woman without judgement, other than God? Who reaches out and says, ‘Just hold my hand and we will make it through?'” she said. “Pastor Herb was that person for us.”
Valero made his passion for people more than clear on his church website, describing his “values-driven approach to ministry.”
“God sent me here to Salinas to establish Victory Outreach Salinas Church as a place where outcast and marginalized people can feel welcome,” he said. “We are a global family with members in every populated continent on Earth.”
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