Mark T Storms, 46, above left, has been charged in connection with the fatal shooting in a Pennsylvania church of 27-year-old Robert E Braxton III following a row last Sunday over seats that were ‘reserved’ with Bibles.
According to an official report, released by Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin R Steele and Montgomery Township Police Chief J Scott Bendig, charges of voluntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment have been brought against Storms relating to the shooting at the Keystone Fellowship Church.
A joint investigation by the Montgomery County Detectives, Montgomery Township Police and other law enforcement revealed that Braxton arrived at the 11 am service and was verbally disruptive and agitated. Church personnel attempted to quiet Braxton.
Storms, who has no official function with the church, approached Braxton after hearing the commotion, displayed a Concealed Weapons Permit badge and told Braxton he had to leave the sanctuary. Braxton then struck Storms in the face at which time Storms fired two shots from his Ruger 9mm semi-automatic handgun, which struck and killed Braxton.
Braxton was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Witnesses, according to this report, told the authorities that Braxton “became agitated” when told that the seats were being held for other parishioners, leading to an argument with ushers who asked him to leave the building. The argument escalated when Storms approached after the situation had been resolved and fired two shots.
Eyewitness Connie Gibson told police that she was in the middle of the confrontation between Braxton and the ushers, offering to calm the situation by asking if she could sit with him. Once a pastor told the ushers to leave the man alone, Gibson states that Braxton had already calmed down and stopped yelling when Storms approached, brandishing his weapon, causing the victim to shout, “Is that a gun?” She stated that Braxton threw a punch at Storms as shots were fired.
According to Hendrie, an associate pastor was able to calm Braxton down before leaving the man by himself when Storms appeared, telling Braxton, “Let’s go outside, let’s go outside.”
Hendrie reported that Storms held something up and started patting the right side of his body showing the imprint of a handgun through his clothes at which point Hendrie told his family to get down. The next thing he heard sounded like a fist hitting flesh followed by two gunshots.
The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office has stated that while he may have become agitated by an altercation with ushers, “Robert E Braxton III arrived at the service only armed with his Bible” and Storms acted without any legal authority, escalated the situation unnecessarily.