A St. Paul man leaving Bible study with his father and young daughter was fatally shot outside his church Wednesday night, becoming the city’s 20th homicide victim of the year.
Police say the gunman shot at the group leaving St. Albans Church of God at 678 Aurora Av. in the Summit-University neighborhood around 8:40 p.m.
The victim’s father, who has a legal permit to carry, pulled a handgun and returned fire as his son ran away. Responding officers found a trail of blood that led to the victim, suffering from gunshot wounds to the abdomen.
Paramedics performed CPR, but the man died at the scene – next to his Bible.
“This one is truly incomprehensible,” said police spokesman Steve Linders, adding that authorities don’t believe the attack was random.
Frank Frazier, an elder at the church and a chaplain, identified the victim as his first cousin, RayVell Carter, 41, of St. Paul.
“I was supposed to be here, but I didn’t come tonight,” a visibly shaken Frazier said of the study session.
Bystanders scooped up Carter’s daughter, who is younger than 10, until police arrived.
“It was alarming to see a little girl alone in the back of a squad car,” said Anika Bowie, a lifelong St. Paul resident who lives two blocks from the church. She couldn’t recall a similar shooting on Aurora Avenue in the past 20 years.
“The real question is where are these guns coming from? We’ve never been terrorized like this before,” Bowie said.
Longtime neighbor Cathy Dozier stood on the street corner watching detectives scour the scene for evidence. Bullet casings scattered the ground, and a nearby SUV was peppered with bullet holes.
“St. Paul is going through something right now,” said Dozier, who lost her 27-year-old grandson, Nicky Taylor, to gun violence in the city last week. “What does the community need to do to prevent this? Put the guns down!”
About an hour after the shooting, residents reported another flurry of shots outside Winnipeg Market on Rice Street about nine blocks away, in the city’s North End. Officers discovered blood but didn’t find a victim. It was not immediately known if the Wednesday night shootings were connected.
The shootings come on the heels of a deadly few weeks in St. Paul, including a nine-hour stretch during which three people were fatally shot.