RICHMOND, Calif. – Feb 14, 2010
A man wearing a hooded sweatshirt walked into a San Francisco Bay area church and opened fire during a Sunday service, wounding two teenagers, police said.
Two other men — also wearing hooded sweatshirts — were with the gunman when the shooting took place at about 12:30 p.m. in front of about 100 people at New Gethsemane Church in Christ, Richmond police Sgt. Bisa French said.
The men walked up and down the aisles with their hoods over their heads before the gunman fired at the teens sitting in the pews, witnesses said. Charles Miller, a 64-year-old deacon at the church, said members of the congregation were about to tell the men to take off their hoods when the shooting began.
“I was listening to the choir and all of a sudden there was a ‘pop pop pop pop pop,”‘ Miller told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Everyone hit the floor. I didn’t know the shooting was inside the church at first, until I heard all of the hollering and screaming.”
A 14-year-old boy was hit in the shoulder and a 19-year-old man was struck in the leg, French said. Both victims, whose names haven’t been released, were hospitalized and were expected to survive. There were no other injuries.
The three men fled and no suspects have been arrested, French said.
“It’s terrible when you come to the house of the Lord and start doing this,” Miller said. “It’s just something you don’t do.”
Investigators believe the men were targeting someone in the church but don’t know if the two who were hit were the intended targets, French said.
“If it wasn’t the victims that were hit, it was somebody near them,” she said.
French said investigators were interviewing witnesses to see if anyone recognized the men.
A handful of congregants returned to the church after police processed the crime scene and finished the service.
“We went on and had church anyway,” Miller told the Chronicle. “We were giving thanks that nobody was killed. We wanted to go and serve the Lord anyway.”
Richmond is an East Bay city of about 100,000 people north of Oakland and Berkeley.
The city has garnered national attention because of the alleged gang rape by seven people of a 16-year-old girl outside an October homecoming dance at Richmond High School.