Churchgoers at Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit were rattled but resolute in moving forward after the fatal shooting of one of their members during a service on Sunday, the result of an apparent domestic dispute.
"The sanctity of our sanctuary has been disturbed," said the Rev. Curtis R. Grant, Zion Hope's pastor for eight years, according to the Detroit Free-Press. "We're just trying to get the families and the children through this tragedy."
Police said gunman Kevin L. Collins, 22, of Detroit had walked in to the 11 a.m. service looking for his girlfriend but instead saw her mother, Rosa Williams, 38, also of Detroit. Witnesses say he demanded to know where Williams’ daughter was. When Williams refused to say, Collins left. He later returned to the balcony and shot Williams, police said, according to the Free-Press.
Williams’ 9-year-old goddaughter, Toi Edwards of Detroit suffered a hand injury by a buckshot pellet, police added. She was treated at nearby Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.
Ann Armstrong, 30, of Detroit said that many of the hundreds of people in the church screamed and ducked under pews for protection, according to the Associated Press. Church members continued to pray and embrace each other as the police started to come in, she added.
"It was a lot of crying, a lot of hugging and a lot of praying," she said.
There were about 300 churchgoers on the scene when the shooting took place. Afterwards, church members continued the service, according to Detroit Police spokesman James Tate.
"They didn’t let this incident stop the reason why they came to church," he said, according to AP. "They came to worship."
Once the service was over, some cried, comforting each other. One group gathered to sing "Victory is Mine."
"People shouldn’t be afraid to come back to our church," said Anthony Bennet, 24, of Detroit, according to the Free-Press.
After fleeing the church, Collins attempted a car jacking a few blocks south where he tussled with Alarie Davis, 54, who was shot and injured. Davis was being treated at Detroit Receiving Hospital Sunday evening, police said according to the Free-Press. His condition was unknown.
Collins was eventually spotted in an apartment about a mile away from the church, according to the authorities. Police rushed over and gave chase. Officers say that they heard a shotgun blast behind the building, soon finding Collins shot in the chest, in an apparent suicide.
Rev. Grant, noted that there should be concern for violence all over the city.
"This is not only happening at Zion Hope … It shouldn’t have to happen at a particular church for us to be alarmed," he said.
The Rev. Edgar Vann, who is Grant's spiritual mentor at Second Ebenezer Baptist Church, also in Detroit, said, "I pray that this is an isolated incident. … This is a wonderful church."