An investigation is underway after a man was shot and killed inside a Montgomery County church Sunday.
The incident occurred during the 11 a.m. service at the Keystone Fellowship Church on Stump Road just off Route 309 in North Wales. Police say 27-year-old Robert Braxton, a member of the church, was involved in an altercation with another church member. During the altercation, at least one shot from a semiautomatic handgun was fired.
"It sounded like three pops, almost like a champagne bottle opening three times," said Breeana Somers, a 24-year-old Temple law student who was inside the church at the time of the shooting. "Everybody's trying to make themselves as small as possible. You could hear some screaming and some crying but it was pretty silent. I went under a chair in a fetal position. I tried to make myself as small as possible. It's really frightening that anything like this could happen here."
Police arrived at the church at 11:23 a.m. and found Braxton, of Montgomeryville, suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest. He was taken to Abington-Lansdale Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 12:11 p.m. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.
Police say the other church member involved in the shooting was also injured during the altercation. He was taken to the hospital and later released. Investigators say the man is cooperating with police and no charges have been filed against him. They are currently trying to determine whether or not the shooting was justified. They also said the man has a concealed carry permit.
"There's no one in custody," said Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele. "The individual involved in the shooting is cooperating with police at this point."
The shooting happened in the sanctuary of the church while hundreds of people, including children, were present, authorities later said. At least two dozen witnesses were taken to a local police station to give statements.
The church released a statement in a Facebook post confirming the shooting.
"We at Keystone are saddened to confirm that a shooting took place at our Montgomeryville campus this morning," the statement read. "No one else was hurt...Our congregation is in prayer for everyone involved."
In an earlier post on the church's Facebook page, Keystone Fellowship announced a special guest pastor was scheduled to speak during its 11 a.m. service on Sunday about "serving in a country that is extremely hostile to the Christian faith."
"Please note: for our guest's safety, no photos or videotaping will be permitted," it added.
It's unclear if the incident was connected with the guest.