Pastor James 'Tripp' Battle murder: suspect Andres Avalos arrested

Pastor James "Tripp" Battle

The man suspected of murdering his wife, a pastor, and a neighbour in Florida has been arrested.

Andres 'Andy' Avalos, 33, has been charged with the murder of his wife, Amber Avalos, Pastor James 'Tripp' Battle, of Bayshore Baptist Church in Bradenton, and neighbour, Denise Potter, the Associated Press reports.

Battle, 31, was shot dead at the church and his wife, Joy, was reportedly present at the time. 

Avalos was arrested at a mobile home park in the Bradenton area on Saturday and is being held in police custody without bond following the killing spree on Thursday, AP reports.  

The bodies of Amber Avalos, a 33-year-old Sunday School leader at Bayshore Baptist Church, and Potter, 45, were discovered at the Avalos residence, located around 10 miles away from the church.

Church members say police were alerted to the two victims by Joy Battle but it is not clear what transpired.

Police believe Avalos killed his wife and Potter first before going to the church and opening fire on the pastor.  

The Avaloses have six children, who were at school at the time of the shootings.  They are now in the custody of a relative.

According to AP, Andy Avalos has a criminal record that includes traffic offences and arrests for driving under the influence.  He was also arrested on a weapon possession charge but was not prosecuted, and his record includes a fight in which he was shot in the arm.  

The murder of Pastor Battle has left his parents, James "Jimmy" Battle and his wife Rhonda, heartbroken.  They described their son as a "gentle giant" and said they were relying on their faith, the Bradenton Herald reports.

"Our faith in God will get us through, and our Christian friends," said Jimmy Battle.