OGDEN — Police have arrested a man accused of walking into a Catholic church and shooting a man in the back of the head during Mass on Sunday in Ogden.
Investigators say 35-year-old Charles Richard Jennings Jr. was captured Sunday afternoon in nearby Box Elder County after fleeing in a stolen pickup truck.
Witnesses say they heard one gunshot during the 11:30 a.m. Mass at Saint James the Just Catholic Church and that parishioners immediately hit the floor.
The victim was taken to McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, where he was listed in critical but stable condition. His name wasn’t immediately released.
Police say the victim was deliberately targeted by the gunman and it wasn’t a random act of violence.
While police haven’t disclosed the relationship between the two, parishioners say the victim was the gunman’s father-in-law and there had been problems between the suspect and his wife.
Ogden police say the Jennings was apprehended without incident in Box Elder County and thank the Box Elder County Sheriff's Office and the Utah Highway Patrol for their assistance.
Everything was calm and peaceful at St. James Catholic Church on Sunday afternoon before Jennings walked in and shot his father-in-law in the back of the head.
Witnesses said they had just started to say a prayer when a man and woman walked into the church holding hands.
“Jim and Tara (Evans) were sitting in the back pew off to the right side when their daughter and her husband walked in holding hands,” said Leon Bedford. “He walked up to Jim and leaned over and pointed his gun at him criminal style and pulled the trigger.”
The gunman then turned around and fled onto Harrison Boulevard, Bedford said. Several members of the congregation chased him.
“It was very peaceful up to that point. Very quiet,” said Rebecca Ory Hernandez. “We stood up to say a prayer, and then there was the loudest noise. The sound … the sound. My ears are still hurting. It was so loud.”
Hernandez said she immediately jumped on top of her 5-year-old son to protect him and then called 911.
“It was about 12:15,” she said. “I ran over to the victim and pulled my scarf off and put it around his head. I was talking to him and just telling him to breathe and that everything was going to be OK. He was warm and his heart rate felt normal. He was pretty calm, but there was so much blood.”
Hernandez said she asked if anyone had any extra fabric and a man pulled off his T-shirt to lay underneath Evans’ head.
“Everything happened so fast,” she said.
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Category: Church Security