A man has been shot dead as he was leaving a Bible study in St. Paul, Minnesota. The victim was with his young daughter and father when the incident took place, with a gunman recklessly firing into a crowd of parishioners.
Responding officers followed a trail of blood to where the man was found, slumped with his Bible at his side. He had been attending a group at St. Albans Church of God in Christ in the Summit-University neighborhood when the gunfire erupted.
“Why anyone would shoot into a crowd in a neighborhood while people are leaving church is incomprehensible,” police spokesperson Steve Linders said, according to TwinCities.com. “At this point, investigators do not believe this was a random shooting, but until we find the person or people responsible we won’t know for sure.”
According to Twin Cities news, neighbors said an 8-year-old girl cried out in horror that “they shot my dad!”
Officers were alerted to the crime by the victim’s father. When they responded, they found a group of people “who were obviously quite shaken up,” Linders said. Police said the individual was leaving the church that he was suddenly fired upon. At this point, the victim’s father drew his legally-held weapon and returned fire.
The killing came after a spike in shootings in recent weeks. Indeed, this was the sixth fatal shooting in St. Paul over this month alone.
“We are working hard to get in front of these shootings, to address the issues that lead to the shootings,” Linders added. “But that takes time and until we’re able to make headway we’re going to continue to allocate as many resources as possible towards addressing this.”
According to StPaul.gov, law enforcement “conducted an extensive search of the area for the suspect and anyone else who may have been struck by gunfire but have not found anyone.”
ABC News reports that church elder Frank Frazier has identified the victim as his cousin, 41-year-old RayVell Carter.
Local residents were shocked by the senseless act of violence, which could have resulted in several more deaths and left a young child without their parent. “It was alarming to see a little girl alone in the back of a squad car,” local resident Anika Bowie told the Star Tribune. “The real question is where are these guns coming from? We’ve never been terrorized like this before,”
Another local, Cathy Dozier, lost her 27-year-old grandson to gun violence just last week. “St. Paul is going through something right now,” she told the outlet. “What does the community need to do to prevent this? Put the guns down!”