Last Thursday night, while on his way to a late-night Bible study with two of his friends, Dale Settle Jr. was fatally shot by an armed robber in Canton, Ohio. Now the story of his death, and his life, are inspiring fellow members of his church to be strong in their faith.
“When he was laying there he was praying and praising God, and he said, 'Praise you Lord!'” said a male friend who was present at the shooting. Settle also proclaimed “Hallelujah Father!” and “I'm healed in the name of Jesus.”
The male friend, who has asked to remain anonymous, told the Christian Post that they had parked across the street, only about 100 feet away from the home where they were supposed to meet with other friends for the Bible study. As they made their way to the house on foot, two men approached them, one of whom suddenly pulled out a gun and told them to empty their pockets.
At that point Settle, who was closest to the gunman and had the firearm pointed at him, started repeating the phrase, “In the name of Jesus the gun will not fire,” while holding out a Bible in his left hand.
When a car passed by the robber lowered the gun for a moment to conceal the weapon, but raised it back up again once the car had passed.
Settle slowly moved closer to the front porch of the house, knowing that other people participating in the Bible study were already inside, but the gunman stepped between him and the house, cutting off his path to the door.
Three more times Settle invoked the name of Jesus to prevent the weapon from firing. When, on the third repetition of the phrase, the gunman lowered the gun slightly, he reached out his hand to take it from him. It was at that time, while he was reaching, that the gun discharged and the bullet struck him in the abdomen.
Afterward the Bible study group gathered around Settle and prayed for him while they waited for paramedics and the police to arrive. Settle died while in surgery on Friday morning.
“He was just a great friend. He was one of the most genuine and loving people you'd ever meet in your life,” said the anonymous man.
"It's just amazing that, through all that, I absolutely know the first words out of his mouth if he saw the gunman face-to-face would be 'I forgive you.'”
The obituary that appeared on the Canton Repository's website says that Settle, a Jackson Township resident, was born in Warren, Ohio and was a student at the University of Akron. He enjoyed playing baseball and golf and weightlifting, but what his friends remember most about him was his faith.
“Our church stands in faith, stands on faith, and there's many, many of us that would do the same [thing he did],” said his anonymous friend.
Settle was an active member of the congregation at Faith Family Church in North Canton, and served as a volunteer leader for the church's youth program. Settle's death, his friend says, has unified the congregation and strengthened their resolve to obey the Word of God and to share the Gospel message.
The woman who witnessed the shooting also agreed to speak to the Christian Post on the condition of anonymity. She did not know Settle very long before the incident, but says that it was evident to her that his faith was strong.
"The unique situation with Dale and I is I just met him that night...I knew that he was this amazing on-fire-for-God person within just a few minutes of knowing him.”
She got to talk with Settle over a meal at Taco Bell shortly before the incident.
It was there he told her, “I don't know what God wants for me yet. I know He has something big for me, but I don't know what it is.”
Johnny May, another friend of Settle's who was at Taco Bell with the group but did not witness the shooting, also emphasized that the young man's death has unified friends and members of the congregation that he was a part of.
Shortly after Settle died the pastors at Faith Family Church posted Twitter and Facebook messages inviting their congregation to a spontaneous gathering on Friday morning. The gathering was attended by about 70 people, all of whom were Settle's friends.
The church also held a Friday night service, which was planned that day and was attended by about 200 people, May said. He described the service as a “celebration.”
“He lived a life of urgency that he needed to share this faith, share the story of Christ with everybody he could meet,” said May.
"It could of been any one of us that night that got hurt, but the same story would be shared because we all have the same vision, the same passion to win this city to Christ, to be on fire for God like never before and to go out and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to share what Christ did for us. And that's what Dale did all the time."
Settle's funeral service will be held at Faith Family Church at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 28. The Canton Repository reported on Monday that police are still pursuing leads as they look for his attacker.