Authorities in Hartford, Connecticut said a local pastor might have been shot because he was not homophobic, Buzzfeed reported on Tuesday.
“Some language used in the incident — and given where it was, in front of a church known to be accepting of our LGBT community — it led us to have concern that this is a hate crime,” Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley said.
The victim, 54-year-old Rev. Augustus Sealy, was shot three times on Sunday as he was placing flags outside the Hartford First Church of the Nazarene to commemorate Memorial Day. Sealy was reportedly also planning a special ceremony for the day marking his fifth anniversary heading up the church. An assistant, Rev. Elton Adams, said one of the gunshots broke Sealy’s femur.
Two of the bullets hit Sealy’s leg, while the third one hit his shoulder. WVIT-TV reported that Sealy was listed in serious but stable condition.
“He hasn’t lost any hope,” Sealy’s wife, Sharon, 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.”
According to Buzzfeed, the Church of the Nazarene’s doctrine states that while it still defines homosexuality as “sinful,” that “every man or woman should be treated with dignity, grace, and holy love, whatever their sexual orientation.”
“We don’t like the [gay] lifestyle, but we like the people — the individuals,” Adams said of the First Church’s philosophy. “I think we are tolerant of the people. We are very caring of other people.”
Watch WVIT’s report on the aftermath of the shooting, as aired on Monday, below.