Bystanders leap into action after man shoots two in Pelham church

Bystanders leap into action after man shoots two in Pelham church

The New England Pentecostal Ministries in Pelham was the scene of a reported shooting Saturday morning. 

Jeffrey Hastings

First responders string up evidence tape outside New England Pentecostal Ministries in Pelham following a reported shooting Saturday morning. 

Jeffrey Hastings

PELHAM — A church pastor is one of two people shot during a wedding at New England Pentecostal Church Saturday morning, according to one witness.The shooting may be related to the Oct. 1 murder of one of the same church’s ministers.Authorities have confirmed that two people were shot and wounded during a wedding and one man is in custody, but they have not released any of their identities.Police received a call reporting an active shooter at 10:12 a.m. at the church located at 955 Bridge St..Churchgoer Janail Archer said she and her mother had been trying to get in touch with her father, Othniel Archer, 59, of Nashua, for most of the morning. He is a deacon at the church and was there at the time of the shooting.When they finally reached him, Archer said, her father told them he was in a balcony used for videotaping services when he saw a man wearing a hoodie walk toward the pulpit and shoot Bishop Stanley Choate, the church pastor, and a woman.Othniel told his family he leaped from the balcony to tackle the shooter. He called for help and three others joined him to pin the shooter to the floor.Archer said her father then recognized the shooter as the stepson of Luis Garcia, an ordained minister from Manchester who was found shot to death inside a Londonderry home on Oct. 1.“My dad was very close with the family,” Archer said. Funeral services for Garcia, 60, were to be held at noon Saturday at the church.A 24-year-old Londonderry man, Brandon Castiglione, has been charged with second-degree murder in Garcia’s death. Garcia’s family has said the minister knew Castiglione’s family through the church and that he had been trying to help the younger man.It was Castiglione’s father, Mark Castiglione, who was being married at the Pelham church Saturday morning, according to Archer.“There was supposed to be the wedding today,” Archer said.Pelham Police Chief Joseph Roark confirmed that a man and woman were shot with a handgun during a wedding ceremony attended by about 40 people Saturday morning.  He said attendees tackled the shooter and police now have him in custody.Authorities said the investigation has led them to believe the attack was planned. “This does not appear to be a random event, at this point,” Roark said.Pelham police said the criminal investigation has been turned over to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office and New Hampshire State Police Major Crime Unit investigators.One of the shooting victims was taken to Lowell General Hospital and another to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua.A spokesman at SNHMC said the medical center had treated two patients from the Pelham incident. A woman with a gunshot wound was reported to be in stable condition, and a male with minor injuries was treated and released.A spokesman at Lowell General confirmed that hospital had received a patient from Pelham who was later transferred to a Boston hospital, but would not confirm the patient’s identity or the nature of their injuries.Deputy Attorney General Jane Young arrived at the crime scene around noon. The Major Crime Unit truck arrived a short time later.FBI Boston spokesman Kristen Setera said the FBI is coordinating with state and local law enforcement as expected. “We have offered our assistance, but no assistance has been requested at this time,” Setera said in an email.

Multiple ambulances and police cruisers are at the scene of a reported shooting at New England Pentecostal Ministries in Pelham.

JOSIE ALBERTSON-GROVE/Union Leader

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