SAN JOSE, Calif. – While the African American pastors are concerned about the Cupertino quarry shooting suspect Shareef Allman, their hearts reach out to the victims’ families in their prayers.
“Lord, we ask for your mercy and grace be with us, minister to the families who have been affected, be with the hearts of those children that’s aching and not sure of the complexity of what has happened,” Dr. Tony Williams, pastor of Marantha Christian Center said.
During a press conference called by the African American Community Service Agency in downtown San Jose Wednesday afternoon, Williams led some of the South Bay's most prominent African American leaders to hold hands together and pray.
“Be with the workers who are in hospital beds even now, who have suffered from injuries, Lord, we pray for healing and recovery. Lord, comfort the families who have lost their loved ones. Even at the job site, Lord, the fear and anxiety will be overwhelmed by your presence, your peace, your grace and mercy,” he continued.
The shooting incident started at around 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday at the limestone quarry of the Lehigh Southwest Cement plant at 24001 Stevens Creek Blvd., when the 47-year-old suspect, Shareef Allman, arrived at a workers’ safety briefing. Allman apparently opened fire on his fellow colleagues, said Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Dept. spokesman Lt. Rick Sung.
Three of Allman's co-workers were dead and six others were injured. After driving away from the plant, he shot and wounded a woman whose car he was trying to steal.
Immediately after Allman’s last appearance, Sheriff's deputies and SWAT teams have been conducting house-to-house searches along the Cupertino-Sunnyvale border.
While the authorities are actively pursuing Allman, some African American pastors would rather see Allman surrender peacefully.
“We want to say to Shareef- please if you can hear us, we are praying for you right now and we are hoping that you would just turn yourself in and bring this to an end,” Rev. Lee Wilson, senior pastor of Open Bible Faith Community Church, made his personal plea during the press conference.
“We don’t understand and we don’t know why, but we know that there could be a better way to end it than how it started,” he added.
The pastors also promised to help the alleged gunman turn himself in safely. “We will do whatever we can to facilitate your safe surrender,” said Dr. Tony Williams, pastor of Marantha Christian Center.
Allman was described by the African American community as a peacemaker who campaigned against domestic violence and acted as a mentor to troubled youths. Members of community expressed shocked upon hearing news of Allman’s involvement with the shooting.
“Father, we pray for Shareef, we don’t know what happened to his life, what confusion, what made him go off like this. Lord, we put him in your hands right now, your eye is on him, you can see him now. Lord, you are able to touch his heart, you are able to give peace to his mind. You are able to stop the racing and anxiety, bring him to a place of peace and make him make wise choices and good decisions to surrender himself, ” Williams prayed for Shareef saying, “Help him know that your love for him has not stopped Lord, your love for him is as much as you did before this incident.“
Authorities have halted ground-based searches around 7:30 p.m. Even so, Allman remains at large. According to Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith, helicopters equipped with thermal vision will continue the manhunt from the air.
Hudson Tsuei contributed to this report from San Jose, Calif.