Man accused of killing wife, wounding 2 pastors
Sunday, September 18, 2011
LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — Derrick Foster was kneeling in prayer when the gunman burst through the front door of Greater Faith Christian Center Church. He heard shooting, then screams.
A former parishioner is accused of critically wounding the church's pastor as associate pastor as close to 20 people prayed between Sunday services. Authorities and relatives said Jeremiah Fogle shot his wife to death at his house, where he had started his own church, before continuing the rampage a block away at Greater Faith.
Foster, a teacher in the ministry, got up and saw the man near the pulpit, turning around with the gun in his hand.
"The first thing in my mind was, 'I have to take this gun away,'" he said.
Foster said he and another man tackled the gunman. The Polk County sheriff's office said one of the parishioners struck the suspect in the head with a microphone stand.
"He had a great grip on the gun," Foster said. "My plan was, as soon as he hit the floor, it would cause him to drop it. But he didn't drop it."
He said it took three or four minutes of struggling with the gunman before he finally wrested the weapon away.
The gunman had six live rounds in his pocket. "He was prepared to shoot even more," Sheriff Grady Judd said.
Pastor William Boss and associate pastor Carl Stewart were shot from behind, authorities said. Boss, who was shot in the head, and Stewart, shot three times in the back and ear, were in critical condition Sunday. No one else at the church was hurt.
"Of all the places you should be safe, you should be safe in a house of worship," Judd said. "Especially on a Sunday morning."
As deputies began investigating, a church member advised that they check on Fogle's wife, who lived with him a block away in a neighborhood of mobile homes, humble houses and industrial shops. Investigators and relatives say 56-year-old Theresa Fogle was found slain inside, apparently killed before her husband went to the church.
"We don't know exactly why he went in to this mad rage," Judd said.
Officials said Jeremiah Fogle would be charged with murder and could face additional charges. It was not immediately clear if he had an attorney.
Theresa Fogle's sister Maria Beauford said the couple married in 2002 and ran a transportation business together. They had been members of Greater Faith Christian Center Church, where the shootings happened, but had started their own ministry out of their house and regularly hosted Sunday services, Beauford said.
Beauford said she had never known Jeremiah Fogle to be violent toward her sister. He had been sick over the past year and had back surgery, and Theresa Fogle nursed him back to health, Beauford said. She said her brother-in-law was always smiling at family gatherings.
"We have no idea what his motive was," she said. "We just have no idea."
Jeremiah Fogle's older brother, Collis Fogle Jr., said that the couple seemed to have gotten along well.
"It's so sad," he said. "I've been trying to call to figure out what went wrong."
Neighbors said they often saw Fogle outside with his wife, mowing the lawn and pulling weeds.
"They would cut up and laugh," Doreen Carroll, who lives a couple of blocks away, told The Ledger of Lakeland (http://bit.ly/rdCwfa).
Several police cars and police tape blocked off the red-brick church and the street in front. Boss, the pastor, is a caring leader who has "a gift from God to speak," said Reese King, a friend of Boss and the sports director at a local radio station.
Associated Press writer Christine Armario contributed to this report from Miami.