— ASHTABULA, Ohio — Children screamed in terror and hid under the pews at Hiawatha Church of God in Christ, witnesses said, as an Ashtabula man was shot and killed by his son just after the Easter Sunday service.
Richard Riddle, 52, was leaving the church with his wife at about 1 p.m. when his son, 25-year-old Reshad Riddle, approached him and fired a single round from a handgun, instantly killing Richard, church associate pastor Sean Adams said.
About 150 parishioners were leaving the church in recessional. They ducked down at the sound of the gunshot, pushing their children and grandchildren under the pews as Reshad Riddle entered the church, still carrying the gun and yelling that the shooting was “the will of Allah. This is the will of God,” Adams said.
“It was terrifying,” Adams said. “The children were screaming and people were dialing 911. We were afraid to breathe.”
Reshad Riddle was quickly subdued by officers, who arrived just moments after the shooting, Adams said.
Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell said dispatchers received multiple calls from inside the church and immediately called law enforcement mutual aid from every available agency to the scene.
“The initial call we received was more along the lines of a mass shooting,” he said. “We knew that shots were fired in the church and we thought there were multiple people down. We called other agencies to assist because it was described as a mass shooting and we weren’t sure if there were multiple shooters or multiple people wounded.”
County Coroner Pamela Lancaster said Richard Riddle’s wound was “immediately fatal.”
Stell said Reshad Riddle has offered no motive for the shooting.
Sargent said while the church is in a notoriously crime-heavy part of town, it is a sanctuary of peace for the community.
“I’ve been at this church all my life,” he said, “and I can’t ever recall an incident of theft.”
Details for this story were provided by the Ashtabula (Ohio) Star Beacon.