When members of the New Destiny Christian Church heard the sounds of a car crash in the parking lot Sunday afternoon, 68 year old Josephine Echols, a registered nurse and mom of the pastor, was among the first to step outside to see if anyone needed medical help.
Unfortunately, she was met outside with a gunman who would ultimately shoot and kill her near her Aurora church Sunday afternoon.
Aurora Police say the shooting happened at the Destiny Christian Center, located 10600 block of East Bethany Drive.
According to Yolanda Marant, the media contact for the church, the shooting happened towards the end of service Sunday, sometime after 2 p.m.
“Our drummer was waving for a couple of people in our service to come out,” Marant said about the end of the service.
She says the drummer waived for the off-duty officer and the pastor’s mother to come outside.
Marant told 9NEWS the drummer, an off-duty police officer and the pastor’s mother were outside and then the congregation heard, “get down.”
“I’ve never been in any kind of trouble. I’ve never heard a series of shots,” Marant said. “Three shots back to back. All of a sudden, people were told to get down. We hit the floor, our kids were on the floor. [We told] everyone not to go outside.”
The congregation hid in different rooms.
Marant said, “Only God protected us.”
Aurora Police say the shooting suspect and the pastor’s mother were shot and taken to a local hospital.
According to Echol’s son, his mom was shot five times before his cousin — an off duty Denver police officer — shot and killed the gunman.
“They both people were rushed to the hospital. When they were transported, they were in serious condition,” Officer Frank Faina, spokesperson for the Aurora Police Department said.
The pastor of the church, De Lono Straham, tells 9NEWS his mother, Josephine Echols, lovingly called “Mother Jo” by church parishoners, passed away on Sunday evening.
Police say the suspect also died.
Officers say the suspect was shot by an off-duty Denver Police officer, who is a member of the church and is the pastor’s cousin.
The shooter was has only been described as being a young man.
“It literally just happened,” Marant said. “We’ve never seen the young man before in our lives.”
The church released the following statement Sunday evening:
“Please keep Pastor Delono Straham, the Straham family and The Destiny Center in your prayers.”
This story is courtesy of 9NEWs