PELHAM, N.H. — Wedding guests “gang tackled” and held down a 37-year-old man who opened fire and injured three people during a wedding at the New England Pentecostal Ministries Church Saturday morning, Pelham police Chief Joseph Roark said.
After receiving a 911 call at 10:12 a.m. from the wedding, Pelham police officers arrived at the 955 Bridge St. church three minutes later and placed the shooter, Dale Holloway, under arrest and took him into custody, authorities said.
After Holloway entered the church and started shooting with a handgun, guests and parishioners “immediately acted” and pinned Holloway down until police arrived, said Benjamin Agati, Senior Assistant New Hampshire Attorney General.
Bishop Stanley Choate, 75, was shot in the upper chest, and the bride-to-be, Claire McMullen, 60, was shot in the arm. McMullen’s groom, Mark Castiglione, 60, was struck in the head with an unknown object, said Agati, at a press briefing Saturday night at the Pelham police station.
Choate is in serious condition at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, McMullen is being treated at a local hospital and is in good condition and Castiglione was treated at a local hospital and released, Agati said.
Mark Castiglione is a relative of Brandon Castiglione, 24, of Londonderry, who was charged with the murder of Luis Garcia, pastor of the same church, two weeks ago, Agati said.
A funeral for Garcia was scheduled at noontime at the Pentecostal church. The wedding, with approximately 40 people in attendance, was set for some two hours earlier.
Geraldo Pagan of Methuen went to the church for Garcia’s funeral, which was supposed to be held Saturday at noon, after the wedding.
“We are here to celebrate Luis,” Pagan said, while standing with two family members.
Pagan grew up with Garcia in the town of Jajuya on Puerto Rico.
“He has a very nice family and he was dedicated to the church,” Pagan said.
Agati said a connection between Garcia’s murder and the shooting at the wedding Saturday morning is a focus of the ongoing investigation. He said he expected the investigation to continue Sunday and for several more days to come.
Authorities would not comment on a motive for the shooting but stressed it was not a random crime.
Police said Holloway was armed with a handgun but they did not specify the caliber.
Holloway was charged Saturday with first degree assault for wounding Choate, Agati said.
“At this time, Mr. Holloway has been arrested on alternative counts of purposely and knowingly causing bodily injury by means of a deadly weapon by shooting Bishop Choate in the chest,” Agati said.
Holloway is being held without bail pending his arraignment which is scheduled for Tuesday at 1 p.m. at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua, New Hampshire.
The vicinity of Bridge Street in front of the white church remained close to traffic Saturday night while police investigated.
Within minutes of the shooting, the parking lot of the church was teeming with police cruisers and officers from Pelham police, New Hampshire state police and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department. Once the state police’s crime scene unit arrived on scene, the area was cleared by police and that area of Bridge Street closed.
Salem and Manchester police, as well as the Southern New Hampshire tactical team also assisted on Saturday, Agati said.
Chief Joseph Roark said Pelham police had done active shooter training at the church within the last year.
Services at the church on Sunday have been cancelled, Agati said.
Crisis counselors will be available from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Sherburne Hall community center, 14 Village Green, Pelham, he said.
Anyone with any information about the shooting is asked to call Sgt. Kelly Healey at the state police major crime unit at 603-MCU-TIPS.
Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.