Man shoots windows of east Houston church while members inside, pastor says
A man has been charged after being accused of shooting at the windows of an east Houston church on Saturday.
Josue David Cordova, 27, has been charged with deadly conduct and aggravated assault after shooting at The Light of the World church.
The shooting was reported at 12:45 p.m. while a group of women, men and children were inside the building, according to the congregation.
Pastor Bigvai Estrada said they are concerned for the safety and well-being of the church members.
“I had members of the church asking if it was safe to go into the temple this Sunday morning,” Estrada said.
Surveillance video shows Cordova pulling up next to the temple in a grey SUV and then hiding behind a tree for about 20 seconds.
“It started as a typical Saturday afternoon, members of the church were having lunch on the lawn and others were volunteering. All of a sudden, brothers heard bang, bang, bang,” he said.
Estrada said Cordova fired at least 12 shots at the windows. He said the gunman was also seen pointing the gun at a member of the church and pulled the trigger but his gun was out of bullets.
He said bullets went through several windows and walls inside the church’s conference room.
“This room is where we prepare our coffee, so if we would’ve have been standing here the bullets would have hit us,” Estrada said.
Pastor Estrada said by the grace of God, no one was hurt.
“This has to stop, this type of violence against Christian churches has to stop. It has no place in our society,” he said.
Estrada said this is the third shooting this year.
“It was a very terrifying experience,” he said.
The church believes the shooting stems from the controversy around Naason Juaoquin Garcia, who is the leader of the church. He also says any time there’s negative press around the church, the churches are targeted.
The Light of the world is part of a local faith-based congregation, which is established independently and ran by a local board in each city.
“So If something happens in another state/country and it’s in the news, people target the churches even if it has nothing to do with the local church,” Estrada said.
Estrada had a message for the accused gunman:
“What I would ask for is respect. We respect everyone and we ask for respect.”
Jack Freeman, a spokesperson for the Houston congregation released the following statement:
“We are saddened and deeply concerned about the attack on The Light of the World congregation in Houston, Texas yesterday. It is a terrible and shocking thing when people are being shot at, and thank God that not one of the 12 bullets fired by the gunman harmed those inside the temple.
“Unfortunately, this is not the first time our congregations become targets for religious hate crimes. We want to be clear that this atrocious act is not only an attack on members of The Light of The World – it is an attack on the very principles of religious freedom guaranteed to all by the United States Constitution. Those who sow religious intolerance must be held accountable.”
Cordova will have a preliminary hearing on Monday.