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Pastor dies, five months after being shot in church

The Rev. William Boss arrives with a bandage on his neck at the Greater Faith Christian Center Church in Lakeland on September 25, 2011. (Rick Runion/The Ledger)

Rev. Carl Stewart, 65, was found dead in his home last week, five months after he was wounded during a shooting at Lakeland church that also wounded another pastor.

According to reports, a friend became worried last week after he hadn’t heard from Rev. Stewart. The friend, who regularly visits the pastor, found Stewart dead about 9 a.m. Thursday.

During a Sunday morning prayer service on Sept. 18, Jeremiah Fogle, 57, of Lakeland, walked into the West Lakeland church and opened fire, deputies said.

Stewart and the church’s chief pastor, the Rev. William Boss, were wounded.

According to reports, Fogle walked up to Boss, who was kneeling down, leading church members in prayer before the Sunday service, and took a close look to make sure it was Boss. Fogle then shot Boss once in the back of the head.

Fogle, a former deacon at the church, then turned and shot Rev. Stewart once behind the left ear, once in the left shoulder and once in the center of the back, deputies said.

Fogle aimed the handgun at another minister, Derrick Foster, who disarmed him, deputies said.

Fogle was arrested for the shootings as well as in the slaying of his wife, whose body was found at their home, a block away, after the church attack.

Since the incident, Rev. Stewart has reportedly had a very difficult time with his recovery.
The medical examiner has conducted an autopsy to determine Stewart’s cause of death, a news release from the Polk sheriff’s office said. The results of the autopsy are pending toxicology tests, which can take up to six weeks.

The state attorney’s office will wait for the autopsy results before deciding whether to charge Fogle in the pastor’s death, the sheriff’s office said in a news release.

Fogle was also accused in the fatal shooting of a previous wife, Diane Fogle, in 1986. He was charged with murder, but the charge was reduced to manslaughter, and Fogle received 10 years probation in a plea deal.

Fogle remains in the Polk County Jail without bail.

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