Pa. Man Accused of Gunning Down Ex-Wife During Church Service

Police in Pennsylvania say a 52-year-old man shot his former wife during a Sunday service at church and left, before later returning to shoot her again. He was tackled by congregants who held him until the authorities arrived.

The criminal complaint was filed on Monday Gregory Eldred of Coudersport for allegedly attacking his ex-wife, 53-year old Darlene Sitler. The shooting occurred 20 minutes into the 11 a.m. service at 180-year old First United Presbyterian Church of Coudersport, PA police said, when Eldered walked into the church wearing a hooded sweatshirt and used a handgun to shoot his ex-wife, who was playing the organ.

Pastor Evon Lloyd witnessed the crime, The Associated Press reported, and noted that about five minutes later, Eldred returned before the stunned congregation saying "I want to finish this."

Members of the congregation apparently tried to block his way, but he allegedly threatened to shoot them and Pastor Lloyd if they obstructed him.

"I got to see her. I got to see if she's dead," the man said before allegedly firing another two shots into his wife. Reports did not confirm if Sitler was already dead by the time he had returned.

The congregation then tried to wrestle Eldred's gun away from him, and although it went off once in the struggle, no one else was hurt.

At the scene police found a .40-caliber handgun, four spent shells, one bullet lodged in a wooden pew and another beneath a pillow beneath the victim's head.

Potter County Coroner Kevin Dusenbury said that it's clear that Sitler died from the gunshot wounds, and added that the community was shaken by the "unprecedented tragedy" that unfolded.

"I've never encountered anything quite like it; it's terrible," he said.

"She's just the consummate professional," Northern Potter Superintendent Scott Graham told The Associated Press on Monday, speaking about Sitler, who taught music at the Northern Potter Children's School for 30 years. "The kids loved her. She just did so many things here for the school and the community."

Graham added that the couple had been divorced for years, and that he could see no sense or reason behind the shooting. The Potter County Prothonotary's office noted that Eldred and Sitler were officially divorced in Aug. 2010, but could not comment on whether the divorce had anything to do with the shooting.

First United Presbyterian Church of Coudersport did not respond to The Christian Post's request for comment by the time of press.