Published On: Mon, Aug 26th, 2019

Esvin Perez shot in South Carolina church, manhunt continues for shooter

A manhunt in South Carolina continues as a gunman fled a Columbia area church during service Sunday shooting, firing multiple shots, leaving one man, Esvin Perez, in critical condition.

Forest Acres Police Chief Gene Sealy is expected to give an update this afternoon regarding the shooting at the Spanish speaking church, Centro Cristiano De Columbia Church on Decker Boulevar.

Pastor Henry Alfaro described the frightening scene, confirming that Perez was actually praying as the unknown gunman attacked, firing a shot and demanding money before screaming at Perez and shooting him.

“He went to the first young man on his knees and shot him in the stomach,” Alfaro said. “Then we all hid under our chairs and he fired again.”

Forest Acres police say the gunman was armed with a small semi-automatic pistol and likely chose the primarily Hispanic church at random.

“We just wanted to protect ourselves. We couldn’t move, we didn’t want to stand up because we thought he’d keep shooting,” Alfaro said, “and every time we heard another shot, we thought someone else had died or he had killed someone else.”

The rest of the church attendees took cover under chairs, the pastor said the gunman fired again for about a minute, until he started hitting the gun. Parishioners thought the gun malfunctioned and then the shooter fled with just a couple of wallets.

Esvin Perez

Perez, 23, was rushed to the hospital and police say he had to undergo surgery.

Alfaro fears that if the incident happened later in the day, it could have been much worse.

“We don’t know what’s happening with this country when we have gotten to a point where we don’t feel safe praying in a church,” Alfaro said. “If this would have happened in the service where we would have had all of the children and more people it would have been a massacre.”

He says they’re praying for the suspect in this case.

“The person who did this, what he needs is a change in the path of his life and it’s a change that only Jesus Christ can give,” Alfaro said. “We’re praying for him so God can help him.”

Police believe the gunman fled the area in a dark colored, possibly dark blue, Toyota Prius.

If you have any information about this incident, you are asked to contact the Forest Acres Police Department, (803) 782-9444 or Crimestoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC.


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- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at theglobaldispatch@gmail ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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