A 62-year-old Brooklyn church caretaker was fatally shot on Monday night at the house of worship where he selflessly served, police sources and witnesses said.
The victim, identified by church members at the scene as Edward James, was shot in the torso about 5:10 p.m. in front of Glorious Church of God on the corner Halsey Street near Marcus Garvey in Bedford-Stuyvesant, police and sources said.
James, affectionately known in the neighborhood as “Swaine,” was taken to Kings County Hospital and pronounced dead, police said.
The suspected shooter, who may have targeted James, is believed to be a man in his 30s who fled the scene on foot, sources said. A motive wasn’t immediately clear.
The victim, who had a family and children, was a fixture at the church, his friends at the scene told MM.
“He was an icon of the church,” said Ronald Stewart, 72, a deacon in the church.
A church musician recalled seeing James regularly sprucing up the outside of the building.
“Always out here taking care, sweeping. Doing everything to upkeep the house of the lord,” the musician, 42-year-old Ron Stewart, said.
Darius McNeil, 32, also a church musician, added of James: “He was our family. We may not have been blood, but he was family.”
Witnesses said they heard three shots go off on the usually quiet block.
“We’re just in shock at what happened. This is a quiet area. So to hear something happened here in the church, it’s unbelievable,” said a witness who identified herself only as Mary.
“We saw the body on the stretcher on the stretcher all bloody, a hole in his back. It is sad,” she said.