Wedding guests subdue suspect after shooting inside New Hampshire church

Posted at 7:29 PM, Oct 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-12 19:29:24-04

(CNN) — Two people were wounded when gunfire broke out Saturday morning during a wedding in a small-town New Hampshire church, authorities said.

The state attorney general’s office said a 911 caller reported a man walked into New England Pentecostal Ministries in Pelham “and shot at the presiding bishop.”

When officers arrived at the church just after 10 a.m. Saturday, wedding guests had subdued the male suspect, Pelham Police Chief Joseph Roark said at a news conference.

“From my understanding,” he said, “they basically gang-tackled him.”

Dale Halloway, 37, was charged with first-degree assault, the state attorney general’s office said in a news release. He is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.

Halloway was accused of shooting Stanley Choate, the 75-year-old church bishop, in the chest, the news release said. Choate was taken to Tufts Medical Center in Boston and is listed in serious condition, the release said.

Claire McMullen, 60, was shot in the arm and was listed in good condition at a local hospital, the news release said. Mark Castiglione, 60, was struck in the head with an object and was treated and released from a local hospital, the release said.

The church attracted a crowd on Saturday. Besides the 40-some guests at the wedding, there was also an afternoon funeral for the church’s former pastor, who was fatally shot earlier this month in a nearby town.

The suspect’s relationship to the wedding guests is uncertain, Roark said.

Other wedding guests were treated for minor injuries. Nobody was killed, Roark said.

Roark said Saturday’s shooting does not appear to be a random event and that the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office and the NH State Police Major Crimes Unit are taking over the investigation. A handgun was recovered at the scene, Roark said.

The Pelham Police Department provided active shooter training to members of the church within the past year, Roark said.

Former minister was shot and killed

The memorial service scheduled for Saturday afternoon was for Luis Garcia, 60, a minister at the church for six years who was shot and killed October 1, according to CNN affiliate WMUR. The affiliate reported he was shot inside a home in Londonderry and that a suspect was arrested.

“We just came and we found all this police, all this chaos here, and they tell us that the activity will be canceled,” memorial service attendee Geraldo Pagan told news media outside the church.

The service was canceled because of the shooting.

Pelham is a town of about 12,000 people 40 miles north of Boston. It is located between two larger cities, Nashua to the west and Salem to the east, and also borders Massachusetts to the south.

Pelham began primarily as a farming community until World War ll, when growth in population and industry took hold.

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Originally Published: 12 OCT 19 12:03 ET
Updated: 12 OCT 19 19:00 ET