LOWELL (CBS) — Hearts were heavy at CCF Ministries church in Lowell after a chaotic scene at their sister church in Pelham, New Hampshire where a gunman shot two people on Saturday.

Investigators said 37-year-old Dale Holloway was arrested for first degree assault after he allegedly shot 75-year-old Bishop Stanley Choate who was presiding over a wedding at the church.

“I almost collapsed. I was in a very important meeting and left everything,” said Raffoul Najem, senior Pastor at CCF church.

He’s been best friends with Bishop Choate for 30 years and was with him last night in the hospital.

“I stayed there for about 13 hours. They are keeping me informed every half hour,” Najem said.

A picture of Stanley Choate. (Photo Credit: CCF Ministries Lowell)

Two other people were injured, including the bride, 60-year-old Claire McMullen, and the groom, 60-year-old Mark Castiglione. Both are expected to recover.

Police say this was not a random incident.

In Pelham, the church was closed. Trained professionals were brought in to offer prayers and comfort.

“Everyone part of that congregation is going to be affected with the physiological piece, but also affected spiritually, and we bring that spiritual aspect,” said Natalie Larson, part of SoulSafe emergency response team.

Pastor Najem said about 30 members of Choate’s church came to be part of the service today. They came to receive a word of hope and encouragement and to pray for Bishop Choate who’s recovering in the hospital.

“There were some people from the bishop’s church here today and they needed to be comforted,” Najem said. “I did my best to comfort them and speak hope, love, forgiveness and no revenge, no retaliations.”

Najem said he plans to return to the hospital today to be by his friend’s side.

“He’s showing signs he wants to talk opening his eyes and moving his mouth,” he said.

Holloway is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday. The incident remains under investigation.

Paul Burton


Leave a Reply