Montgomery ministers issue call for calm after deadly officer-involved shooting

Montgomery ministers issue call for calm after deadly officer-involved shooting
A prayer meeting was held Friday night in Montgomery. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
A prayer meeting was held Friday night in Montgomery. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Church leaders in Montgomery are urging the community to let the investigation into a fatal police shooting run its course.

Their plea comes as Mayor Todd Strange asked for patience and promised a fact-based, transparent probe into the incident -- an independent investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation.

The shooting happened early Thursday morning in the Mobile Heights neighborhood. An unidentified Montgomery police officer shot and killed Gregory Gunn, 59, following what authorities called suspicious behavior by Gunn.

Strange said the public can expect full disclosure.

"I just want to make sure the citizens of Montgomery understand that the pledge that we'll get to the facts, it will be open, it will be transparent, and wherever the facts lead us, that will tell us what our next steps will be," Strange said.

The mayor and Montgomery Police Chief Ernest Finley have talked to a number of church leaders in the wake of the shooting.

On Thursday, ministers from different denominations say they met with Finley who answered questions and assured them he would keep them informed.

Rev. Dr. Willie Welch III, pastor of First Baptist Church of Greater Washington Park, said he's upset for the victim, officers, and the city, but he's encouraging community members not to rush to judgment.

"We need to let everything play out through the proper procedures," Welch said.

Bishop Kyle Searcy, pastor of Fresh Anointing House of Worship, says he's been in contact with the mayor and police chief and feels that city officials will keep their promise.

"I think we should be calm and wait for reaction. Right now, it's under investigation. There's an independent agency that's investigating," Searcy said. "Officials have told me they're looking for transparency and truth and it's going to be known and dealt with…It's very difficult adjudicate or judge even in the court of public opinion without the facts so let's wait for the facts."

On Friday night, community members came together to support the city through prayer.

At the Montgomery House of Prayer on Perry Hill Road residents remembered Gunn and prayed for the police force and ongoing investigation by the state.

"We're asking for healing in the City of Montgomery tonight. We're asking that people will be calm and that they won't allow others to come in from around the country to bring hate or incite. But we just believe that justice will be served whatever the outcome is," said Tijuanna Adetunji, minister at Fresh Anointing House of Worship.

The investigation could take weeks.

It will then be turned over to the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office and heard by a grand jury.

The mayor is holding a news conference Monday at city hall to discuss the shooting.

"We are just praying for peace in this city because we know that the mayor and police chief, that their hearts are in the right place. We believe that they will do everything they can to make sure that justice is done," said Bishop Fred Adetunji, missions director at Fresh Anointing House of Worship.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to contact the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency at 1-800-392-8011 or the Montgomery County District Attorney's Investigation Unit at 334-832-1642.

"We're wanting Montgomery to continue to flourish. We don't want it to go back. So many good things have happened in the city and we want to continue to move forward," Tijuanna Adetunji added.

Copyright 2016 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.