July 15, 2005
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Duo Tries to Kill American Pastor After Service
John moved up his return from the U.S.A. to take care of sick son.
REGINA CARVALHO Reporter
A homicide attempt, with characteristics of a premeditated crime, shook the inhabitants of the small city of Coqueiro Seco, situated 32 kilometers from Maceió. At about 8 p.m. last sunday, after leading a religious service in the Victory Baptist Church, the evangelical pastor John David Leonard, 45, was hit by three shots at a distance of less than two meters. John was rendered quadripalegic and at risk of dying. According to witnesses, two men approached the church and had asked an evangelical which one was pastor John. "They had shook my hand, thinking that I was the pastor, and placed a gun to my head.
That was when I said that I was not the pastor. They asked me who was the pastor, and I pointed. After that, I heard the shots. I closed the eyes so I wouldn't see. It was horrible.", said a witness who preferred not to identify himself. According to this witness, after they confirmed who the pastor was, the two men also greeted him and then got off at least six shots. Three of them hit the left arm, the neck and the jaw of the victim, who, as of yesterday, had undergone surgery in the Armando Lages Emergency Unit , in Maceió. That night he was transferred to the Arthur Ramos Hospital. According to witnesses, after the shooting, the men left calmly with uncovered faces and escaped in a silver, Corsa-type vehicle of the Corsa model, but with a license plate still unidentified by the police. An adolescent, who also did not want to identify himself, said that the two men were drinking in the "Kika" bar, located in the neighborhood of where homicide attempt happened, and had asked for paper and pen from the owner of the establishment. "I knew that they had written down two names and had said that one already had died and another one would die very soon. Soon afterward they had shot the pastor", she recounted. She also said that at the moment of the crime some children were in the area, in danger of being shot as well. Davi Olindo de Freitas, owner of a commercial establishment that is in the front of the church, recounted that he heard the shots and it only knew later that the pastor had been shot. "By coincidence, on this day I closed the doors of the market more early".
Crime was Ordered, Police Chief
Even though they were afraid, two witnesses had given depositions yesterday to the agent of Coqueiro Seco, Geovânia Ribeiro Falcão: John David Leonard's caretaker and the person who witnessed the shots being fired. "We have initiate the investigation now and I cannot speak very much no so as not to impede the course of the inquiries. What I can say now is that it was a deliberate crime, that it was a paid hit, and that was not carried out by people of the city ", said Geovânia Falcão. The fact that the men responsible for the shootings did not know the pastor and to needed the inhabitants to point him out strengthens the hypothesis that the crime was ordered by someone else, according to chief. In accordance with Geovânia Falcão, as an apparent motive for the attempt does not exist, all are possibilities are being examined. She did not discount the possibility of that homicide attempt might have political motivations. "We do not discount any hypothesis. For the time being all are suspect. These people went with the certainty that they would find the pastor at that place," she added.
Proofs of the Crime
the initial police surveys point that the gun used by the men in the murder attempt on the pastor was a 38 pastor. The vehicle used by the pair to escape, was probably stolen, according to cheif, because it had a broken windshield. The agent emphasized out that she can ask for the aid of Federal Police (PF) to investigate the case, since the victim had dual nationality. "Without a doubt it is going to be difficult to solve this attempted homicide, because there is no apparent reason. The thing that is certain is of that they wanted to kill the pastor, because after he had fallen, they continued shooting ", added the police chief of Coqueiro Seco.
John Carried On Social Works and Worked With Drug Addicts
Pastor John David Leonard has dual nationality. Son of North Americans, he was born in the Ceará. He had been liveing for almost one year in Coqueiro Seco , where he developed social programs, including getting young people off drugs. In the city, he established Victory Baptist Church and liveed in a house at the back of the building, with his wife and four children. According to inhabitants, the work John did in establishing an evangelical church contributed to an increase the number of follewers of the religion in the city. For a few days the pastor had been in the United States with his wife and three children, to give reports of the work developed in the city, and he would only be coming back to Alagoas the next year. However, his son George Leonard, 19 years, who was in Coqueiro Seco, suffered an accident in house and had a broken femur, which cause him to return earlier than planned. "He came to see his son, and was going to take him to Juazeiro, where he would be studying to be a pastor", resident Davi Olindo recounted. The pastor also carries out missionary work in the city of Rio Largo and the Graciliano Ramos, in Maceió.
Posted by Andrew on July 15, 2005 11:33 PM.