Ryan Ware, a 24-year-old graduate student at Duke Divinity School who serves as pastor of two churches in Virginia, is now fighting for his life after he was shot in a Costco parking lot in Durham, North Carolina, Saturday.
“The Duke Divinity School community is deeply saddened and troubled by the shooting of one of our students,” Divinity School Dean Greg Jones said in a statement to The Chronicle Wednesday. “We have been surrounding the victim and his family with love, support and prayers ever since, and we will continue to do so in the coming days."
Police say, just after 1:30 p.m. on Saturday while he was at the 1500 block of North Pointe Drive, Ware was shot in the stomach while inside his SUV. No arrests have yet been made but a grey or silver sedan was seen speeding from the scene after the shooting.
Police searched Ware’s SUV, and took a wallet and a cellphone before swabbing for DNA and gunshot residue. Officials also said Ware had been hospitalized with possibly serious and life-threatening injuries.
Ware’s parents urged people on their social networks to pray for their son on Saturday night as those who were at the Durham Costco at the time of the shooting wished the family well.
“My heart goes out to them, I can’t even imagine how they feel. It must be just a horrible thing just to have something like that happen to your son,” one woman who asked not to be identified said in an interview with ABC 11. She was inside Costco when the shooting happened and witnesses say he was found slumped over in the driver’s seat.
“The fact that someone would target someone like that, just an innocent person with their life ahead of them,” the woman added.
Authorities said Ware remained hospitalized on Thursday. Calls to the two churches Ware pastors were not immediately answered on Friday.
The Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church called for prayers for Ware in a statement on the shooting.
“This past weekend, one of our clergy members in the Danville District, and student at Duke Divinity School in North Carolina, was the victim of a shooting in North Carolina. We, the Virginia Conference of The United Methodist Church, join together with the Duke Divinity School community in offering prayers for him,” the statement said. “We ask that our clergy and laity pray for his healing and for strength for his family and friends.”
Anyone with information on the shooting is being urged to call Crimestoppers at 919-683-1200.