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Ex Shot Playing Church Organ in Pennsylvania

December 4, 2012

An elementary school music teacher, Gregory Eldred, allegedly shot his ex-wife while she played the organ during church service in Pennsylvania last weekend.

After leaving briefly, he then returned and shot her again to ensure she was dead.

Congregants eventually overpowered Eldred, ending the shooting Sunday at the First United Presbyterian Church of Coudersport, 140 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

The shooting was detailed in a criminal complaint filed Monday against Eldred, who remains jailed without bond on first-degree murder and other charges.

Eldred's attorney didn't return messages seeking comment.

Eldred's ex-wife, 53-year-old Darlene Sitler, the choir director, was seated at the organ when she was shot about 20 minutes into the 11 a.m. service, state police said.

Pastor Evon Lloyd told police that Eldred entered the church wearing a hooded, beige jacket and "leveled a gun at the victim and shot," according to the complaint.

The woman then fell into the organ pit. Eldred quickly left the building and put a handgun on the hood of his vehicle while those inside called 911 and aided Sitler.

Another witness, Leslie Rolfe, said that Eldred picked up the gun about five minutes later, while Rolfe tried to hold the church doors shut but couldn't.

Rolfe and his wife, Dr. Beverly Prince, tried to persuade Eldred to drop his gun, but he instead threatened to shoot them and the pastor, telling Prince "I want to finish this."

Eldred then walked toward his ex-wife saying, "I got to see her. I got to see if she's dead," before firing two more shots at Sitler, the complaint said.

Police said nobody else was hurt, though Eldred's gun went off once when Rolfe and other members of the congregation struggled to subdue Eldred and take his gun.

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