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Wedding guests stop gunman at New Hampshire church



Wedding guests “subdued and detained” a man who opened fire Saturday morning on a wedding ceremony at a church in Pelham, New Hampshire, according to local police.

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Two people were were shot and taken to nearby hospitals. There were no fatalities and a gunman is in custody, said Pelham police chief Joseph Roark at a media briefing Saturday afternoon.

The shooting occurred at New England Pentecostal church in Pelham, a city of 13,000 in southeast New Hampshire near the Massachusetts border.

“From my understanding, they basically gang-tackled them,” Roark said.

Two people, a man and a woman,were shot and taken to local hospitals. Their conditions are unknown. Another person sustained minor injuries and was also taken to a nearby hospital.

Pelham police received a call about an active shooter at 10:12 a.m., and responding officers responded within three minutes.

“This does not seem to be a random event,” Roark said.

Roark said the suspect, armed with a handgun, arrived after the wedding had begun. Police estimated that about 40 people were in attendance.

Roark said he did not know if any of the guests were armed, but that police had provided active shooter training to the church within the past year.

A large police presence, including fire trucks, ambulances, and state and local police, gathered outside the church Saturday.

Lowell General Hospital in Pelham confirmed that one patient had been admitted shortly after an incident Saturday morning. The hospital could not provide information on the patient’s condition. Two other victims were taken to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, police said.

“State officials are on scene assisting local first responders in the response and investigation of a shooting in Pelham, NH,” Gov. Chris Sununu said in a tweet. “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.”

According to the church’s website, a “men and women meeting” tied to Domestic Abuse Month was also scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

One man told WBZ-TV that he was at the church Saturday morning to attend a celebration of life service for a late minister scheduled for noon.

Earlier this month, Luis Garcia, an ordained minister at New England Pentecostal Ministries, died after being shot in the neck, according to WBUR-TV. A 24-year-old man has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the death.

“I’m deeply disturbed to hear about the shooting in Pelham this morning. Today was supposed to serve as a celebration of the life of Minister Luis Garcia. This senseless violence can’t continue — my prayers are with the victims of this terrible attack,” New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan said in a tweet.

New England Pentecostal Ministries could not be reached for comment.

Pelham is located just north of Lowell and is about 40 miles south of Concord, New Hampshire. According to 2010 census data, Pelham had a population of nearly 13,000.

This story will be updated.


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