JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A pastor in Mississippi’s capital city was shot to death while unlocking his small church for worship services, and his truck was stolen, police said.
Anthony Longino, 62, was killed Sunday morning outside New Bethany Missionary Baptist Church.
A Jackson Police Department spokesman, Sgt. Roderick Holmes, said officers learned two men confronted Longino while he was opening the church. Holmes said investigators believe one of them took the pastor’s 2018 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup and the other fled in an older truck.
Police said Marquez Hamilton, 22, was arrested late Sunday and charged with capital murder. It was not immediately clear Monday whether Hamilton has an attorney.
Chris Austin, a longtime neighborhood resident, told the Clarion Ledger that the church had good attendance despite being small and appearing to be in disrepair. Austin said he would often see a small but devoted group of parishioners show up to mow the lawn and perform other chores.
“Nobody should go out like that, especially a pastor in God’s home,” Austin said.
Longino often talked to Austin and his mother, Lisa Austin, who have lived in the neighborhood all their lives.
“He was a good man. I would talk to him all the time and he would ask me to come to the church,” Lisa Austin said.
Longino’s killing is Jackson’s sixth homicide in 2019. In 2018, the city of 167,000 had its highest homicide rate in more than 20 years.
Mississippi’s Republican governor, Phil Bryant, said Monday on Twitter that he will join Jackson leaders “to stop this violence together or I will do so as Governor on my own.”
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba held a news conference Monday with police officials to speak about the killing of Longino and an unrelated shooting death that occurred Sunday night in a Walmart parking lot.
Lumumba talked about efforts to proactively curb violence and called for more camera surveillance of “crime hot spots” within the city.