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updated: 4/1/2013 8:22 AM

Witness: Man yelled about God after church killing

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  • Police in Ashtabula, Ohio, are investigating a shooting outside a church that left one man dead after an Easter service.

      Police in Ashtabula, Ohio, are investigating a shooting outside a church that left one man dead after an Easter service.
    ASSOCIATED PRESS/WKYC, CHANNEL 3

 
Associated Press

ASHTABULA, Ohio -- Witnesses say the 25-year-old man accused of walking into an Ohio church and fatally shooting his father after an Easter service was yelling about God and Allah after the killing.

Police say Reshad Riddle walked into the Hiawatha Church of God in Christ in Ashtabula and killed his father, 52-year-old Richard Riddle, with a single shot from a handgun Sunday afternoon.

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Associate Pastor Sean Adams tells The (Ashtabula) Star Beacon newspaper that worshippers started screaming, ducking down and calling 911 on cellphones after the shooting.

"It was terrifying," Adams told the newspaper. "The children were screaming and people were dialing 911. We were afraid to breathe."

Adams said Reshad Riddle then continued into the church, still holding the gun, and yelled that the killing was "the will of Allah. This is the will of God."

The gunman was quickly subdued by officers, who arrived just moments after the shooting. They say he has been mostly cooperative.

The Plain Dealer newspaper in Cleveland reported that another church pastor said congregants were leaving when they heard a gunshot.

"People pushed me into a back office and said, 'Somebody's here with a gun,'" said the Rev. David Howard Jr. "The guy was outside hollering and acting crazy."

County Coroner Pamela Lancaster said Richard Riddle's wound was "immediately fatal."

Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell said the gunman offered no motive for the shooting.

"Witnesses at the scene said the shooter entered church and made some references to Allah, but we are not sure if that was a motive or if there was a family problem," Stell said. "There is no indication that the father and son had a bad relationship. Everyone thinks this was very surprising."

Court records show the gunman has an extensive criminal record.

Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court records show he was arrested and charged with two counts of felonious assault, kidnapping, abduction and tampering with evidence in 2006.

Records show that in 2007, the gunman was charged with felonious assault, and in 2009 he was charged with possession of drugs, tampering with evidence and possession of cocaine.

According to police reports, one of the felonious assault charges stemmed from an incident when the suspect allegedly attempted to cut his girlfriend's throat. Capt. Joseph Cellitti said the young woman's neck had been cut with a knife and she suffered bruising on her side and chest.

Church parishioners said the suspect was a member of the church as a child, but did not attend services regularly as an adult.

"No one would have thought twice about him being here with his family on Easter," Adams said. "His family (has) been members here for years and years."

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