Shooting of Pastor Outside Hartford Church May Have Been Hate Crime: Police - NECN
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Shooting of Pastor Outside Hartford Church May Have Been Hate Crime: Police

Community members gathered Tuesday night for a vigil in honor of a pastor shot outside the First Church of the Nazarene in Hartford on Sunday while putting flags out for Memorial Day services. (Published Tuesday, May 26, 2015)

The shooting of a pastor in Hartford over Memorial Day weekend may have been a hate crime linked to the church's inclusion of gay and lesbian members, according to the police department.

Rev. Dr. Augustus Sealy, 54, of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, was placing flags from different countries outside the First Church of Nazarene at 932 Captiol Avenue 6:30 a.m. Sunday when someone opened fire, according to church official Rev. Elton Adams.

Police said Sealy was shot twice in the right leg and once in the left shoulder. He was taken to St. Francis Hospital, where he underwent surgery and was listed in critical condition.

His wife, Sharon, said Sealy was in a lot of pain but was expected to recover.

"He hasn’t lost any hope," she said. "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."

Now investigators are looking into whether the shooting may have been a hate crime.

"I can tell you we do hear from residents that the church is very accepting and open to the LGBT community," Hartford police spokesman Deputy Chief Brian Foley said during a media briefing Tuesday afternoon. "So there were some statements made at the scene that certainly keep the idea of it being a hate crime open to our investigators."

Foley declined to elaborate on those statements except to say someone made "hateful comments" toward the LGBT community. He said it's not clear whether Sealy was targeted.

The police department's Major Crimes Division is investigating. Foley said detectives have yet to identify a suspect and are looking for a dar-colored sedan that sped away from the scene.

A vigil for Sealy has been planned for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the scene of the shooting. The city mayor and police chief also plan to address the shooting during a town hall meeting Tuesday night.

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