A gunman rushed into a Lakeland church on Sunday and shot its pastor and assistant pastor after shooting and killing his wife nearby, Polk County officials said.
According to Polk County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Donna C. Wood, deputies got a call at about 9:58 a.m. about a gunman who ran into the Greater Faith Christian Church at 2035 West Parker St. in Lakeland. According to reports, the gunman shot the pastor, William Boss, as well as the associate pastor, Carl Stewart. Both Boss and Stewart were transported to Lakeland Regional Medical Center, where they are being treated for their injuries and are in critical condition.
The deceased victim was identified as Theresa Fogel, 55, and was the wife of the gunman, according to Fogel’s sister, Laura Girdan. Fogel was shot at a nearby residence, Girdan said. The gunman was identified as Jeremiah Fogel, 56, and he is in custody. According to the initial witness reports, Fogel ran through the front door of the church and shot both pastors. Parishioners in the church then tackled Fogel and held him until law enforcement responded and took him into custody.
No other members of the church were injured.
“We never expected this. She [the victim] never has been one to have people up in her business,” Girdan said of her sister, whom she said had been married to Jeremiah Fogel for about five to six years. Another, younger sister of Theresa Fogel was stunned with grief as she and other family members arrived at the scene.
The Rev. Maria Beauford said her family has worshiped with Jeremiah Fogel’s family since the 1970s. When her sister married Jeremiah Fogel in 2002, their union was harmonious, Beauford said.