Monday, March 31, 2003

Murder in Michigan Church

Neither the victim nor the murderer were members of the church.

From Guardian Unlimited:

The priest at St. Paul's Albanian Church was preparing to distribute the sacrament when the attacker stood up, yelled, ``Yes, I am here'' and shot the victim in the back of the head and several more times after that, said witness Luigi Gjokaj, 42. He then fired into the air and yelled, ``I done what I was supposed to do.''

Some of the approximately 1,000 churchgoers fled after the shots, most running for the doors while a few leapt through windows, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said. The suspect was wrestled to the ground by nearby worshippers, one of whom was injured as he sought to subdue him.

Update (4/1/03):

From The Detroit News:

St. Paul's Rev. Anton Kqira said Monday he had spent the last 24 hours talking to police, parishioners and relatives of the men involved who called from as far away as Europe to offer apologies for what happened Sunday.

"We can't have any services until (Cardinal Adam) Maida or someone blesses the church," said Kqira. "Blood has been spilled inside it."

Kqira had finished his sermon when witnesses said Pepaj shouted "I am here behind you" at the surprised Isufaj. Eight shots rang out in the pews, and enraged parishioners disarmed Pepaj and pummeled him to the floor. At least seven of 1,400 worshippers suffered minor injuries diving through plate glass windows to escape.

"We were fortunate no one else was injured," said Kqira.

The church opened its Rochester Hills doors in September after more than 20 years at Twelve Mile Road in Warren, where it had similar problems with serious gunplay.