CHICAGO — A Chicago minister has been charged in the fatal shooting of an elderly retired pastor at a senior housing complex.
According to reports, both men—Ted Merchant, 67, and Allen Smith, 80—lived at Senior Suites of Rainbow Beach and would discuss the Bible on a regular basis.
Smith had served as the pastor at First Baptist Church in East Chicago and Merchant led a ministry called Straight Gate and held services at the senior home.
Resident Dorothy Hull told the Chicago Tribune that the two would often sit on the patio and discuss theology.
“They’d be out there all the time,” she said. “They’d talk about Bible passages and ideas about God. They always had little arguments going on about things like that.”
Hull said that Smith was a kind and generous man.
“He was a very nice person, very outgoing, very friendly,’’ she stated. “He would do things for you, like go to the store or whatever.”
Resident Ann Harding told the outlet that Merchant seemed to be cordial as well.
“I just know he usually has a few people downstairs for prayers and whatever. He does it for the building,” she said. “He goes around to different apartments to try and get people for a congregation. He was a nice man, you know, when he came to the door.”
While details are not available as to exactly what occurred, it is believed that Merchant pulled a gun on Smith on Sep. 5 during a late night talk on the patio, and shot him dead. Smith’s body was not found until the following morning and surveillance video marked Merchant as the killer.
Merchant is now behind bars on a charge of first-degree murder. Bond has been set at $500,000.
A memorial service was held for Allen at Christian Tabernacle Baptist Church in Hamden, Connecticut as he is attributed to founding the congregation.
“Very sad for a man of God to be taken away from us in this manner,” Wilfred Sealy wrote on the church Facebook page. “We have to continue to pray day by day.”
“Praying for all who knew him and those of us that he helped to build our faith and beliefs,” also commented Tracie Justus. “Just so sad.”