Connecticut Pastor Shot Outside Church While Putting Out Flags for Memorial Day

A line of American flags borders the front line of the property at First Church of the Nazarene on Capitol Ave. in Hartford, the scene of a shooting early on Sunday, May 24. The flags stop abruptly. (Jordan Otero)
A line of American flags borders the front line of the property at First Church of the Nazarene on Capitol Ave. in Hartford, the scene of a shooting early on Sunday, May 24. The flags stop abruptly. (Jordan Otero)

The Rev. Dr. Augustus Sealy, who leads the First Church of the Nazarene on Capitol Avenue, was injured at about 6:30 a.m. Sunday in a drive-by shooting, police said.

Sealy, 54, was planting small flags in the church’s lawn at 932 Capitol Ave. in honor of Memorial Day. He was shot in the leg and shoulder.

A witness identified a black car traveling west on Capitol Avenue, slowing as it passed the victim, and heard five gunshots. Seven shell casings were found on the scene, police said.

Dr. Sharon Sealy, his wife, usually spends the weekends at the parsonage in the Parkville neighborhood, and the couple live in Shrewsbury, Mass., during the week. Augustus Sealy has a private counseling practice in Massachusetts.

Sunday, Sharon Sealy was in Massachusetts because their two grown children and her two sisters were gathering to travel to Hartford for an appreciation service and luncheon honoring her husband for his five years at the church.

She said getting the news her husband had been shot was “devastating,” repeating the word three times for emphasis. The drive to Hartford, and several hours of waiting in the hospital until he came out of surgery “was the longest day of my life,” she said. She said her husband’s femur was shattered, and doctors put a metal rod in his leg.

As she waited at Hartford Hospital, more than 200 congregants worshipped at the church.

“They were puzzled. They were trying to make sense of this,” said the Rev. Eustace McDonald, a Church of the Nazarene pastor from Brooklyn, N.Y. He preached at the packed 11 a.m. service.

McDonald drew from the first Book of Samuel, a passage that describes what David and his soldiers did after the village where their families were living was burned by the enemy, and their wives and children taken captive. “They were so distressed that they cried till they had no more tears,” he said.

But David prayed to God and was encouraged that he would be victorious.

Augustus Sealy, 54, the pastor of the Hartford First Church of Nazarene, is pictured on the left alongside his wife. (WFSB)
Augustus Sealy, 54, the pastor of the Hartford First Church of Nazarene, is pictured on the left alongside his wife. (WFSB)

“Misfortune in life comes to us all,” McDonald said. He said what matters is how you respond. “You have to go to a place of hope.” At the end of the service, McDonald said, “We left that place strangely rejoicing.”

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SOURCE: The Hartford Courant
Mara Lee and Jordan Otero

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