After a gunman opened fire on his neighbours in the village of Parham, Ont., and their historic church burned to the ground, community members are now speaking out.
Many people recall seeing smoke billow at around 8 p.m. Sunday, bringing them outside to see the century-old St. James Anglican Church on fire. Residents say they then saw a man who lived next door to the church yelling in the streets and opening fire.
“He was in between the church and the red house and he fired a shot at me,” said Jordan Lowery. “It hit me in the ribs.”
Lowery suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was treated at the scene.
Brian Daniel Mosher, 42, is accused of firing a weapon at his neighbours before fleeing the area.
Several OPP units, including the emergency response team, canine unit and crisis negotiators, along with officers from other police detachments, were deployed late Sunday to find Mosher.
After hours of searching, OPP arrested him at a residence in the Hartington, Ont., area, just south of Parham at around 7:30am. Police say he was arrested without incident.
Hours after the flames were extinguished, Adam Brown was seen reading the Bible in front of the church ruins. On Tuesday, Brown returned to read an entire chapter of the New Testament out loud, something he says he plans on doing all week.
“Once there is an understanding and a sense of peace in this community, and that the sorrow is washed away, I’ll keep coming here,” Brown went on to say.
“I’m praying for Mr. Mosher.”
Brown, a recent graduate bible school graduate, says he has seen and heard a lot of hate directed towards Mosher, and he hopes the community will forgive him.
“We need to love our neighbours,” said Brown.
On Tuesday, Global News spoke to the pastor of St. James Church, Rev. Ronald Hunt, at his home in Montague, Ont.
Hunt says his congregation is devastated by the fire and plans to rebuild the church. Although similar to Brown, he doesn’t have any hard feelings toward Mosher.
“The people are devastated; this was a place of worship for over 100 years,” Hunt said.
Hunt went on to say that he is reaching out to Mosher.
The mayor of the township of Central Frontenac, Frances Smith, says the church is insured. She says the incident has startled many people in the village of around 250 but believes the shooting and fire have brought them closer together.
“Parham is a very strong community of people. They will rally together. But right now, they need each other and we all need each other in central Frontenac,” said Smith via zoom.
OPP say Mosher has been charged with the following:
- Two counts of attempt to commit murder using a firearm
- Discharging a firearm into or at a place in a reckless manner
- Two counts of uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm
- Two counts of arson
- Using a firearm while committing offence
- Careless use of a firearm
- Possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose
- Unauthorized possession of a firearm
On Tuesday, police said that it will not disclose if there was a motive behind the incident as the investigation is ongoing.