Woman Shot in Church on Sunday & Congregation Tackles Her Ex-Husband

Heartbreaking 5

churchAnother church became a crime scene this weekend when a man walked into the First United Presbyterian Church in Coudersport, Pennsylvania, and allegedly shot his ex-wife. Darlene Sitler, a popular music teacher, died. Other members of the congregation were spared physical injury, but they had to wrestle the suspect, Sitler's ex-husband, Gregory Eldred, to the ground and hold him until the cops arrived.

It's a sad story for the Sitler family, for the school district where she was a beloved teacher, and for a neighboring district where Eldred was likewise a music teacher. And it adds to a growing list of shootings in places of worship in this country. It's as though the havens so many Americans depend on are under attack.

Churches, mosques, temples, synagogues ... in America they were once treated with a certain amount of respect. I was raised in the Catholic faith and consider myself lapsed these days, but the church of my childhood is still a place I consider a haven, a building I walk into (mostly for funerals and weddings these days), expecting to be safe.

But no more.

We have incidents like this one in Coudersport, where Darlene Sitler was apparently just sitting in the pew when her ex walked right up the middle aisle of the church with a gun and allegedly opened fire on Sunday morning. We have mass shootings like the one that shook the Sikh community in Oak Creek, Wisconsin this past August when a man opened fire inside a temple. We have killings in the middle of prayer services, like the shooting of a man leading the service at an Atlanta megachurch earlier this fall.

Fortunately we also have heroes like the people who tackled this man to the ground in Coudersport, like the hero cop in Oak Creek. It does something for the flagging spirit. But it can't erase the unease.

I have little understanding of the psyche of those who choose to inflict bodily harm on another to begin with, yet there's something particularly unsettling about those who choose to disrupt the sanctity of a place of worship to do so. If there is no respect for a sanctuary, if crime and death can find us there, where is our harbor in a storm to be?

Do you feel safe in the places of worship in your town?


Image via Jeremy Vandel/Flickr

crime, guns


To add a comment, please log in with

Use Your CafeMom Profile

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Join CafeMom or Log in to your CafeMom account. CafeMom members can keep track of their comments.

Comment As a Guest

Guest comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

nonmember avatar Common.Sense

Well, with these lax gun laws and everybody with an IQ above 30 being able to get a concealed carry permit, what do you expect? Guns can now be everywhere and thus you can be shot to death anywhere. Thanks to gun nuts, nobody is safe.

nonmember avatar Libertarian

That is a completely ignorant comment. "Gun nuts" are mostly folks who understand that criminals will find ways to obtain guns no matter the laws and regulations. Oh yeah, THE CONSTITUTION grants us the right to bear arms to protect ourselves from psychos like this.

Flori... Floridamom96

Common.Sense, your screen name is completely contradicted by your statements.

hello... hellokd87

Having said criminals will find ways to obtain guns despite what the laws dictate, there is the fact that you don't have to be a criminal in order to improperly use a gun or "go  nuts" one day and shoot people. Look at the kids who were bullied. Teens (and tweens) who have shot their families like the one young boy who shot his pregnant stepmom. I would think they wouldn'tbe considered "criminals". But things happen. People snap.

Flori... Floridamom96

And those teens did not legally own those weapons. For the record, the second amendment clearly states, "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." Since no one seems to understand, to keep means "to retain in one's possession", bear arms means "to carry weapons" and infringe means "to encroach upon in any way". So the constitution protects the right of the people to own and carry on their persons weapons under all circumstances. If you want to alter or restrict this right the only way to legally do so is to amend the constitution.

1-5 of 5 comments