Bible argument leads wheelchair-bound pastor, 67, to fatally shoot fellow retired pastor, 80

The Senior Suites of Rainbow Beach seniors' home in Chicago, Illinois. Inset, Pastor Ted Merchant, the lone suspect in the fatal shooting of fellow Pastor Allen Smith, 80.(Facebook/Chicago PD)

This could only be the work of Satan.

An argument over the Bible between two elderly pastors took a tragic turn when one of them allegedly shot the other in the head twice, killing the victim on the spot.

The police said Allen Smith, 80, a retired Baptist minister and Yale Divinity School graduate, was shot dead by the wheelchair-bound, 67-year-old pastor Ted Merchant early Monday morning at a seniors' home in Chicago, Illinois, The Christian Post reports. Police say the shooting was caught on surveillance camera.

After the incident, Merchant fled in his motorised wheelchair but was arrested three blocks away at about 1:05 p.m., according to the Chicago Tribune. He was subsequently charged with first-degree murder.

Merchant had been living at the Senior Suites of Rainbow Beach in Chicago for about six years now and ran a ministry in the seniors' home called Straight Gate, according to residents.

They said the two men of God would frequently debate religion on the back patio where Smith died.

"They'd be out there all the time," Dorothy Hull, 76, a retired auditor for the Bank of America in Chicago, told the Tribune. "They'd talk about Bible passages and ideas about God. They always had little arguments going on about things like that."

But Hull said she had never thought that their arguments would reach such a point that either one of them would resort to violence.

"It was very surprising," she said. "I just can't get over it because he [Merchant] had a church in the community room every Sunday morning. He was retired, too, but he had this church going on. I just couldn't believe he did that."

She said Smith, the slain pastor, was a very nice man who was single and had no children.

"He was a very nice person, very outgoing, very friendly,'' Hull said. "He would do things for you, like go to the store or whatever."

Smith founded the Christian Tabernacle Baptist Church in Hamden, Connecticut in 1962 after previously serving in ministry in New York City, according to the church website.

Residents of the senior home told the Tribune that Smith was recently retired from the First Baptist Church in East Chicago and had moved into the seniors' home about a year ago.

The pastor was among at least 13 people killed in Chicago shootings over the Labor Day weekend, according to ABC 7.