On the church's "doorstep," police shot and killed a neatly dressed man who fired rounds into the Living Hope Community Church in downtown Wenatchee, Washington, on Saturday morning, wounding an officer.
The suspect, whose identity has not yet been revealed, began shooting at the church at the corner of Chelan Avenue and Palouse Street around 8:27 a.m., according to the North Central Washington Investigation Unit. When Wenatchee Police arrived on the scene, the suspect shot an officer in the leg before being shot and killed.
Due to Washington state regulations requiring an independent review of all officer-involved shootings, a Wenatchee police official claimed they were unable to comment or investigate the shooting, The Christian Post reported.
The Douglas County Sheriff's Office was given the case, which is still under investigation. According to Douglas County Undersheriff Tyler Caille, investigators have identified the suspect and alerted his family. However, they were still looking for the probable cause of the incident.
He noted that investigators were still looking into it, attempting to figure out what motivated him to be at the chapel on that particular day. Vendors were preparing for the annual Apple Blossom Festival parade in a park across the street from the church at the time, according to the undersheriff. Caille noted that they can't find any connection between the incident and the parade.
Lead Pastor Jeremy Peyton Warned People Of False Narrative
Lead Pastor Jeremy Peyton shared what he knew during Sunday's worship service, which was streamed live on YouTube. "There was a man who was not recognizable to us... who was dressed in a suit and tie and, for whatever reason, decided he wanted to enter the church building" via the south door, he recalled a few hours before the Apple Blossom Festival march began.
People attending the festival across the street from the church began hearing gunshots. He attempted to enter the building with firearms and tried to break down the door. Since it was parade day, there were numerous officers on the scene, ready to respond. When they heard that, they knew they were dealing with a man who was firing into a structure.
They drew their weapons and told him to put them down, not knowing what was going on inside or who might or might not be inside the structure, they traded fire. A police officer was struck, and the man was killed on the spot.
Peyton warned people of false information floating around. He said that they don't have any idea what their motivations were or anything like that. So, certain people have distributed a lot of information that they don't know about.
"That's a really sad, yucky thing that happened on our doorstep," he said. "It wasn't what I expected to walk into."
Despite the incident, one elderly attendee expressed his hope that the suspect had come to the church "looking for hope," and prayed for his soul. "If nothing else, I pray that this man was seeking hope and I hope he found it, and just pray for his soul."
Also, a female parishioner expressed her relief that no one else was slain, except for the poor man who presumably had mental illness and was not in his right mind.