HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Pastors open the vigil with a word of prayer at the spot where Dr. Augustus Sealy was shot three times Sunday morning while planting flags outside his church, First Church of Nazarene in Hartford. Now police say the shooting may be a hate crime. Pastor Sam Saylor says the community is in shock.
“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,” he said.
RELATED STORY: Police: Pastor one of two victims shot in Hartford
Many families with children attended the vigil. The parents are on edge wondering who would target a pastor in front of his own church and shoot him in cold blood. Reverend J.J. Johnson says the faith leaders will rise to the occasion.
“I think this just strengthens the fight,” he said. “It’s not just a community member, but a faith leader.”
There was a heavy police presence at the vigil, more than a dozen officers lined the streets in front of the church.
“We do hear from residents that that church is very accepting and open to the LGBT community,” said Deputy Chief Brian Foley. “There were some statements made at the scene that certainly keep the idea of this being a hate crime open to investigators.”
While police continue their investigation, another man was shot within a few minutes of the pastor.
“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,” said Pastor Saylor. “We are poor preachers out here not getting paid, trying to bring the voice of compassion, the voice of reason, to the people.”
Pastor Sealy is still in the hospital, recovering from his wounds.