Charges filed against Utah man accused of shooting father-in-law in Ogden church
Six felony charges were filed Tuesday against a 35-year-old man accused of shooting his father-in-law in the head during Sunday Mass in Ogden.
Charles Richard Jennings Jr., of North Ogden, is charged in 2nd District Court with one count of attempted murder, two counts of aggravated burglary and two counts of aggravated robbery, all first-degree felonies, along with possession or use of firearm by a restricted person, a second-degree felony.
Jennings is scheduled to appear in Ogden's courthouse on Thursday for a bail hearing.
Jennings is accused of walking into St. James the Just Catholic Church, 495 N. Harrison Blvd., on Sunday just before noon, where he pulled out a gun and fired one shot, hitting his father-in-law, 66-year-old James Evans, in the head.
The bullet entered Evans' right ear and exited through his cheek. He did not suffer brain damage. And though Evans' jaw will need to be reconstructed, he is expected to recover.
After the shooting, Jennings ran from the church into a nearby neighborhood and allegedly stole a truck from a stranger at gunpoint. He was captured several hours later walking along Interstate 84 in Box Elder County after the truck ran out of gas as he apparently attempted to flee to Idaho.
Police have not revealed a motive for the church shooting.
Jennings' criminal history is limited to lower-level felonies and a misdemeanor, including theft and drug possession. In 2004, Jennings was convicted of theft and trying to tamper with a witness or juror, for which he served about a year in prison, according to Steve Gehrke, Utah Department of Corrections spokesman.
As a convicted felon, Jennings was not allowed to have a firearm.
According hospital spokesman Chris Dallin, Evans has been moved out of the Intensive Care Unit at McKay Dee Hospital Center and has been upgraded to "fair" condition. His birthday was Tuesday.
The Rev. Erik Richtsteig plans to hold a liturgy of reparation Thursday at 6 p.m. to cleanse the church of the evil that happened there, per Catholic tradition.
Guidelines for confronting church shooters
Washington • For the first time, the federal government has issued written guidelines for houses of worship that are confronted with a homicidal gunman.
Vice President Joe Biden released the new rules Tuesday, two days after a gunman shot a parishioner during Mass at an Ogden church and six months after the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Beyond seeking shelter and waiting for police to arrive, as many Newtown victims did, the new rules also advise adults in congregations to fight back as a last resort in a bid to stop the shooter. The new federal doctrine is "run, hide or fight."
Though shootings at churches and other houses of worship remain relatively rare, they can make inviting targets for shooters particularly disturbed individuals who are looking for a highly visible target to settle a grudge or make a political statement. Last year a gunman killed six people inside a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis.
The new guidelines' basic run-hide-fight advice is similar to that given to schools faced with active shooters: Congregants should first try to flee the scene, taking people with them but not waiting for those who refuse to leave. If flight is not possible, hide. Fighting back is a last resort.
According to the new rules, gathered in a 38-page document called "Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship," fighting back is advised for "adults in immediate danger," who should:
"Consider trying to disrupt or incapacitate the shooter by using aggressive force and items in their environment, such as fire extinguishers or chairs. In a study of 41 active shooter events that ended before law enforcement arrived, the potential victims stopped the attacker themselves in 16 instances. In 13 of those cases, they physically subdued the attacker."
Religion News Service