Pastor shoots assailant in church gun battle

A Florida church was the scene of a gun battle between the pastor and a former employee.

Pastor Terry Howell returned fire when he was shot at by a former employee.Living Water Fellowship Church

Pastor Terry Howell, minister of Living Water Fellowship in Osceola County, met with Benjamin Parangan, a maintenance worker at the church, at around 8 am on Tuesday to terminate his employment there.

However, the disgruntled Parangan pulled out a gun and fired several shots at Howell, who had also gone armed to the meeting and returned fire, badly wounding his assailant.

Parangan is believed to be in a stable condition in hospital and will be charged with aggravated assault with intent to kill. Pastor Howell's actions will be treated as shooting in self-defence.

Living Water Church issued a statement saying: "We are in full support of the on-going Osceola County Sheriff's Office investigation into the traumatic incident that occurred at our church this morning. We will continue to cooperate with the investigators in every way that we can. Until the investigation is complete, we will not be making any public statements. Thank you for understanding. The members of our church will continue to pray for all those involved in this morning's incident. We would ask all who read this release to do the same."

Church members told Channel 9 that the incident had left them shaken.

"To hear it happened here in my neighborhood, and not only my neighbourhood, but my church, it's shocking," said Robert Quintana.

"It could happen anywhere though, (in) the times we live in. Really unfortunate," he added.

The incident comes after another pastor, James "Tripp" Battle, was shot as part of a triple homicide earlier this month.

Last Sunday two minister were shot at while sitting in the car park of the Greater Apostolic Faith Temple Church in San Diego. One, Pastor Dwayne Sheperd, suffered a graze to the chest before the bullet hit his arm.