Churchgoers leap into action after man shoots two at Pelham wedding

Churchgoers leap into action after man shoots two at Pelham wedding

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 and wounded 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 during a wedding and one man is in custody, but they have not released any of the identities. No one was killed, police said. Police received a call reporting an active shooter at 10:12 a.m. at the 955 Bridge St. church.  Officers arrived about three minutes later, said Pelham Police Chief Joseph Roark. 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.Archer said her father told her 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. Police said the shooter used a handgun.Othniel told his family he leaped from the balcony to tackle the shooter. He called for help and three others joined him in pinning the shooter to the floor.When police arrived, Roark said, they found churchgoers holding down the gunman. Police took the shooter into custody, but have not identified him to the public. Archer said her father 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.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.Castiglione’s father, Mark Castiglione, was to be married in the wedding at the Pelham church Saturday morning, according to Archer.“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 — right after the wedding. As mourners arrived for the funeral, police turned them away, saying the funeral would not be held Saturday. Police surrounded the church with yellow crime scene tape, and were interviewing the witnesses early Saturday afternoon. 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. Deputy Attorney General Jane Young arrived at the crime scene around noon. The state police Major Crime Unit truck arrived a short time later.Two people were shot, Roark said, but he could not discuss their condition. One person was taken to Lowell General Hospital, Roark said, and a hospital spokesman said the patient was transported to a hospital in Boston. The other gunshot victim was taken to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua, along with another person who had minor injuries. A spokesman said the medical center treated two patients from the Pelham incident. A woman with a gunshot wound was reported to be in stable condition, and a man with minor injuries was treated and released.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.Gov. Chris Sununu released a statement about the church shooting Saturday morning: “State officials are on scene assisting local first responders in the response and investigation of a shooting in Pelham … While this remains a very active scene, the State of New Hampshire will provide all necessary resources to support the community and our local partners.” Staff writer Josie Albertson-Grove contributed to this report. 

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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