The pastor of a Hartford, Connecticut, church told police that slurs against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were made to him by a gunman before he was shot three times on Memorial Day outside of his church.
According to FOX CT, Sealy’s church, First Church of the Nazarene, has been described by police as being accepting to the LGBT community.
Here’s what you need to know about the shooting:
1. Police Are Investigating Whether It Was a Hate Crime
Police said they are investigating the shooting as a possible hate crime.
“There were some statements made at the scene (by the shooter) that certainly keep the idea of a hate crime open,” Deputy Chief Brian Foley said during a press conference.
But police said it’s too early to say why Sealy was shot.
“The church is very accepting of and open to the LGBT community,” Foley told the Hartford Courant, adding the shooting, “obviously troubling to the police department and the city.”
Sealy is recovering from his wounds and is out of the hospital.
“He hasn’t lost any hope,” Sharon Sealy told NBC Connecticut. “You know, this is something that happened that was really terrible and shouldn’t have happened and we’ve already prayed for that person who actually committed the crime.”
2. The Pastor Was Placing Flags Outside of His Church For Memorial Day
The shooting happened at about 6:30 a.m. while Sealy was placing flags outside of his church in honor of Memorial Day.
“To be gunned down planting flags or to be gunned down while fighting for the rights of your girlfriend, like my son, imagine that, to lose your life because you have a couple of dollars in your pocket,” Pastor Sam Saylor told WTNH during a vigil for Sealy.
“It validates that we have to bring a stronger fight. It validates that we need more people at the table, that we can’t do this by ourselves,” Saylor said. “We are poor preachers out here not getting paid, trying to bring the voice of compassion, the voice of reason, to the people.”
The pastor’s recovery is expected to take at least six weeks. One of the gunshots shattered his femur.
“There’s so many mixed emotions right now. It’s hard,” Myrna Springer, a secretary at the church, told NBC Connecticut. “People’s sprits are low. We just don’t know.”
Reverend Henry Brown, of the Hartford-based Mothers United Against Violence, told the news station, “This is sickening. This is ridiculous. A pastor? You’ve got to be kidding me. Who would want to shoot a pastor?”
3. He Was Shot at 7 Times by a Gunman in a Car
A black Nissan Maxima was seen leaving the crime scene after Sealy was shot. Police were called to the First Church of Nazerene, 932 Capitol Avenue, at 6:27 a.m.
Police said a witness saw the black sedan slow down and then heard at least five gunshots. Detectives later found seven shell casings at the scene. The car was last seen traveling away from the scene at a high rate of speed.
Sealy was shot twice in the leg and once in the shoulder.
4. The Shooting Was Linked to Another Shooting That Happened Moments Later
A second shooting that happened moments after Sealy was shot and the shooting of the pastor are linked, police said Thursday. Deputy Chief Brian Foley said at a press conference that the same gunman and car were involved in both shootings.
A 27-year-old Hartford man, Robert Jones, was shot six times in front of 402 Garden Street. He suffered gunshot wounds to the arms and legs, but also survived.
The second shooting, which was reported at 6:41 a.m., was captured on video, which was released by Hartford Police in hopes that the gunman will be identified by the public (watch the video above).
The scene of the second shooting, on Garden Street, is about 10 minutes away from the church, which is on Capitol Avenue.
5. The Shooting Comes Amid Several Violent Crimes & Homicides in Connecticut’s Capital
Hartford Police are dealing with an increase in shootings and homicides in recent weeks. Five people have been killed, for by gunshots, in the past two weeks. Police also told the Courant that shootings are up more than 30 percent in May.