ASHTABULA, Ohio (AP) — Witnesses say the 25-year-old man accused of walking into an Ohio church and fatally shooting his father after an Easter service Sunday was yelling about God and Allah after the killing.
Police say Reshad Riddle walked into the Hiawatha Church of God in Christ in Ashtabula and killed his father, 52-year-old Richard Riddle, with a single shot from a handgun Sunday afternoon.
Associate Pastor Sean Adams told The (Ashtabula) Star Beacon newspaper that worshippers started screaming, ducking down and calling 911 on cellphones after the shooting.
Reshad Riddle was quickly subdued by officers, who arrived just moments after the shooting. They say he has been mostly cooperative.
“People pushed me into a back office and said, ‘Somebody’s here with a gun,’” said the Rev. David Howard Jr. “The guy was outside hollering and acting crazy.”
County Coroner Pamela Lancaster said Richard Riddle’s wound was “immediately fatal.”
Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell said the younger Riddle offered no motive for the shooting.
“Witnesses at the scene said the shooter entered church and made some references to Allah, but we are not sure if that was a motive or if there was a family problem,” Stell said. “There is no indication that the father and son had a bad relationship. Everyone thinks this was very surprising.”
Court records show Reshad Riddle has an extensive criminal record.
Ashtabula County Common Pleas Court records show he was arrested and charged with two counts of felonious assault, kidnapping, abduction and tampering with evidence in 2006.
Records show that in 2007, Reshad Riddle was charged with felonious assault, and in 2009 he was charged with possession of drugs, tampering with evidence and possession of cocaine.
According to police reports, one of the felonious assault charges stemmed from an incident when Reshad Riddle allegedly attempted to cut his girlfriend’s throat. Capt. Joseph Cellitti said the young woman’s neck had been cut with a knife and she suffered bruising on her side and chest.
Church parishioners said Reshad Riddle was a member of the church as a child, but did not attend services regularly as an adult.
“No one would have thought twice about him being here with his family on Easter,” Adams said. “His family (has) been members here for years and years.”
by MICHAEL CARL
A Roman Catholic priest reports that 50 out of 52 Catholic Churches in Nigeria’s Maiduguri Diocese have been destroyed.
According to a report by on Shoebat.com, Father Jerome Ituah of Christ the King Catholic Parish in Kurudu said the buildings have been knocked down, but the people are not discouraged.
Heritage Foundation Africa Analyst Steven Bucci said that the numbers are consistent with the goals of Boko Haram, a jihadist militant group in Nigeria.
“They have been targeting Catholics and evangelicals right along. They are dedicated to spreading Islam by any means, and they prefer the bloodiest ways available,” Bucci said.
News of the destruction of 50 churches follows only weeks after it was reported that a Nigerian general proposed amnesty for some members of Boko Haram.
According to the report, “The national coordinator of Nigeria’s counter-terrorism center said the government is willing to embrace members of the militant group who renounce terrorism, Nigeria’s Daily Trust reported Tuesday.”
The report added, “Nigerian counter-terrorism chief Major Gen. Sarkin-Yaki Bello said the government would adopt some socio-economic measure to address extremism in the north and grant amnesty to members of Boko Haram.”
A report of an amnesty offer stands in sharp contrast to Boko Haram’s rejection of a call for peace. As WND reported last summer, the group answered “no.”
Human rights group International Christian Concern is reporting that gunmen stormed a Nigerian church in the town of Ottie and killed 19 people.
According to witnesses at the church, the method of attack and the tactics closely follow the operational methods of Boko Haram.
In a statement for the press, ICC reported that a Nigerian Christian leader who asked not to be identified put the blame completely on the jihadi group.
“Members of Boko Haram are killing Christians. They want to Islamize the North. Their targets are Christians, the security men and the police. Many Christians have already left the North,” the Christian leader said. “For those of us remaining in the North, we worship under the heavy presence of the military. The time the church was attacked was because the service was held on Monday.”
Bucci added that he’s not sure if the Nigerian government is even willing to stop Boko Haram.
International Christian Concern’s Africa specialist, William Stark, said that while he can’t vouch for the time period, destroying Catholic churches is part of Boko Haram’s method of operation.
“I do believe the recent attacks against Christians and foreigners in Nigeria have told us a lot about Boko Haram. From the outside, it looks like Boko Haram may be fracturing into different groups,” Stark said.
He said a short-lived ceasefire shows a rift in the ranks.
“Last month’s ceasefire agreement showed that there is a fracture between Boko Haram members that are ready to end the insurgency and others that are not willing to call a peace,” Stark said. “Also, this new group (Ansaru) that is targeting foreigners vs. Nigerians shows a new splinter group.”
Stark said changing names or groups won’t end the violence.
“Whether these groups continue to fracture or not, Christians will still be persecuted. There seems to be an agreement between all of the groups that Nigeria’s north shouldn’t allow Christians to exist and worship freely,” Stark said.
Former PLO operative turned Islam analyst and peace activist Walid Shoebat warned, “Look for the Islamic persecution of Christians in Nigeria – courtesy of Boko Haram – to increase.”