Luther Jones, pastor of the Belgrade Baptist Church in Bon Wier, Texas, has been charged with the murder of his 34-year-old nephew, Curtis Jones. The pastor allegedly opened fire on Sunday morning and shot his nephew, though reports differ about where the shooting took place.
One report by 12 News Now stated that Curtis was shot three times as he entered the church building. Juanita Jones, a member of the church, confirmed that Curtis was her brother and Luther their uncle.
However, a report by KFDM News stated that Curtis was shot as he pulled into the driveway of the church. He apparently never left his vehicle, and Luther approached and opened fire. Curtis was hit and slumped over the wheel when the vehicle started rolling; his foot somehow stayed on the gas pedal. His vehicle continued moving and ended up hitting a tree.
Juanita told authorities that there was a "long-standing" feud between the two men, but police have yet to release a motive for the shooting. Luther will be arraigned this morning and charges formally announced. Authorities may then release a motive for the killing.
The shooting has left the Bon Wier community shaken and members of the Belgrade Baptist Church in shock.
"What is the world coming to? When a preacher takes a gun to the church house!" Susie Lard posted on KFDM.com.
According to Carl Chinn, a recorder of violent church incidents, there have been 41 total incidents of deadly force already this year, with 13 fatalities. Chinn has kept data on violent incidents since 1999, and out of 679 incidents, there have been 440 deaths.
Chinn worked as the building engineer for Focus on The Family and in 1996 was a responder in a standoff with a gunman. That led to his interest in providing security for churches and religious institutions across the nation. He continues to speak about the need for safety practices at churches.