(AP) — Police fatally shot the son of a church deacon on Sunday morning after they were called to a church when members of the congregation started arguing over the firing of a pastor, authorities said.
Cacedrick White, 26, arrived with a shotgun and fired it once in the parking lot while police were at the church in Lexington, Mississippi Bureau of Investigation spokesman Warren Strain said. A Lexington police officer fired back three times, wounding White. He died at a hospital.
Strain said no one else was injured or arrested.
Police were called to the Asia Missionary Baptist Church after congregants began yelling at each other, Strain said. Deacons tried to fire the pastor, but the pastor was trying to get the entire congregation to take a vote on whether to retain him.
“What happened was a bunch of the pastor’s family showed up and there was a whole bunch of yelling and hollering,” Strain said.
Lexington Police Chief Martin Roby said congregants had agreed to settle things among themselves. The two police officers who were on duty in the town of 1,700 people — plus a Holmes County sheriff’s deputy who was called as backup — were actually leaving when they encountered White at the back door, Roby said.
Strain said White fired once, and one of the Lexington officers shot White three times from a distance of 15 to 20 feet, Holmes County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Sam Chambers said.
Chambers said he believed someone had called White at home, and he came to the church with the gun.
“I believe someone called him and got him upset,” he said.
Albert Gibson Sr., White’s father, told WAPT-TV that White had come to the church to protect him.
Disputes among church members over firing a minister or other matters are not uncommon, but authorities said they were surprised that White would bring a gun.
“Our churches are usually pretty peaceful,” Roby said. “We don’t have a lot of calls like that.”
Holmes County Coroner Dexter Howard said the body was being taken to Jackson for an autopsy Monday. MBI and the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office are investigating. Roby said the Lexington officer, whom he declined to name, has been placed on administrative leave.
Lexington is about 55 miles north of Jackson. Asia Missionary Baptist Church, though not particularly large, is historic. The African-American congregation formed in the 1870s and meets in a tan brick building completed in 1908.