Coudersport, PA – Sunday, December 2, 2012, was a day of tragedy for the Coudersport’s First United Presbyterian Church, when their church organist, Darlene Sitler, was gunned down at approximately 11:20 A.M. during the morning service by her ex-husband.
Witnesses reported Darlene’s ex-husband, Gregory Eldred, entered through an entrance point behind the church choir and approached her as she played the organ. There are conflicting reports of whether she was at the organ or sitting in a pew.
According to the criminal complaint, Pastor Evon Lloyd told police that Eldred entered the church wearing a hooded, beige jacket and “leveled a gun at the victim and shot.” Sitler then fell into the organ pit. Eldred quickly left the building and put a handgun on the hood of his vehicle while those inside called 911 and aided Sitler.
Eldred reportedly left the church and went outside, and then returned a short time later saying, “I want to finish this.”
When church members attempted to stop him by holding the church doors shut, he threatened to shoot them. He walked toward her saying, “I got to see her. I got to see if she’s dead.” He shot her a second time. When he finished shooting her again, he was attacked and subdued by the church pastor and other parishoners, who disarmed Eldred and held him until police arrived.
An additional shot was fired during the struggle, but no other injuries were reported.
It is believed Darlene Sitler was still alive after the first shot, but died after the second shot was fired.
Witnesses reportedly observed the suspect pacing outside the church. Eldred was arrested when Pennsylvania State Police arrived and took him into custody. The response time for the trooper was approximately 8 minutes. The Coudersport police do not work 24 hrs a day and were not scheduled to be on duty until 4:00 pm. Eldred is being held on a charge of first degree murder.