Christian Today reports…
“The Christian community in Leesburg, Virginia is still in shock and unable to find coherent explanation as to why a former pastor would kill his childhood sweetheart and wife just moments after they were seen attending church service together last Sunday.
“It’s demonic,” said Michelle Thomas, pastor of Holy & Whole Life Changing Ministries International where the couple—40-year-old Andre T. Howell and his wife 39-year-old Naomi H. Howell—worshiped.
Thomas said she knew the “God lovers” were having marital problems but noted that there were no signs of any immediate trouble when she saw them on Sunday, Gospel Herald reported.
Howell, who was a chief petty officer in the Navy, fatally shot his wife Naomi before killing himself in their Lansdowne townhome, according to NBC Washington.
“I feel so sorry for them. They were the nicest couple in the neighbourhood,” one neighbor who declined to be named, told reporters.
The couple co-founded a Loudoun County church. They left behind two children—a young daughter, who was inside the home when the shooting took place but wasn’t physically harmed, and an older daughter who was at college at that time.
Thomas said she had spoken to Andre earlier in the week, and he appeared “excited.”
“He was very excited. He told me he was just preparing for the week. … He watched the game with some of our other friends,” Thomas told NBC. “This is absolutely shocking and devastating.”
“If we’re looking for rational explanation we will never find one here because these were God lovers. This should not have happened. It’s demonic,” Thomas said.
Ivana Robinson, a friend of the couple, told NBC the Howells were like an aunt and uncle to her. She said people were aware that the couple was having problems, as they were often heard arguing and had previously sought counselling. However, nobody expected that they would end up dead.
Following the news of the shocking tragedy, hundreds of people took to Facebook to offer prayers for the couple and condolences for their surviving daughters.
“Prayers for their families, this is such a horrible situation,” wrote one woman.
“I pray for the both of their families, no one knows exactly what happened, but before we all get married we need counselling of some kind and lay it all out on the table past, present, and moving into the future…if something is not right don’t get married until you deal with your stuff. If you are married now and you have problems seek help from a marriage counsellor,” another woman wrote.
A GoFundMe page has been created to assist with paying for Andre and Naomi’s funeral expenses along with their daughters’ living expenses.”