Ashtabula, Ohio — A 25-year-old Muslim man shot and killed his father at the conclusion of a service at a Christian church on Sunday, claiming that it was the “will of Allah.”
Reports state that Reshad Riddle walked into Hiawatha Church of Christ in Ashatbula, Ohio, approached his father, 52-year-old Richard Riddle, and pulled the trigger. Autopsy reports note that Riddle died instantly from the gunshot.
The congregation went into a panic as the incident unfolded, as people began screaming and ducking. Some called 911 for help, including from the church bathroom where they took refuge.
“It was terrifying,” said Associate Pastor Sean Adams. “We were afraid to breathe.”
Eyewitnesses state that following the shooting, Reshad walked to the front of the room near the pulpit and began yelling about “the will of Allah.” Pastors and members alike feared that the situation might turn into a massacre.
“Is he going to just walk out of the church or is he going to start shooting people at random?” Michael Wofford, 59, told reporters. “Sooner or later he’s going to run out of words. It could have been much worse.”
Pastor David Howard said that some members warned him about Riddle after they saw him outside of the church.
“People pushed me into a back office and said, ‘Somebody’s here with a gun,'” he explained. “The guy was outside hollering and acting crazy.”
Minutes after the incident, police arrived on the scene and took Riddle into custody. Ashtabula Police Chief Robert Stell advised that a motive has yet to be determined.
“Witnesses at the scene said the shooter entered the church and made some references to Allah, but we are not sure if that was a motive or if there was a family problem,” he explained. “There is no indication that the father and son had a bad relationship. Everyone thinks this was very surprising.”
However, according to reports, Riddle has an extensive criminal past, including a charge of felonious assault from 2007, when he was accused of trying to cut his girlfriend’s throat with a knife. He appeared in court on Monday with his hands and feet shackled. He told the court that he wanted to be treated fairly and again spoke of Allah.
Prosecutors are asking for $1 million bail. If paid, they request that Riddle receive a psychiatric evaluation and go on 24-hour monitoring.
Riddle had attended the church as a child, but has not been a member since.