911 calls after church shooting show range of emotion

Jun 20 2013 - 9:08am


James Evans
James Evans

Listen to the 911 calls.

OGDEN -- The 911 calls to emergency dispatchers show the range of emotion of witnesses to Sunday's shooting in St. James the Just Catholic Church.

Police and parishioners say Charles Richard "Ricky" Jennings Jr. walked into the church on Father's Day just after Mass started, put a gun to the back of his father-in-law's head and fired.

"Oh, my God, oh, my God," one caller begins before the dispatcher can ask questions. "Somebody's been shot. His son shot the father. I think that's what they're saying. Just get someone here." 

Then she notes the suspect is a regular patron of the church. "We see him every Sunday in church."

Another caller explains to an incredulous dispatcher the location. "Yes, he's shot inside the church."

"We're in St. James Catholic Church, and there's shots fired in the church," said another caller. "... we're down on the floor ... They're laying under the pews."

Jennings then fled the church, pursued for a time by some parishioners.

Police said Jennings then stole a truck from a neighbor at gunpoint, only to be apprehended in Box Elder County when the truck ran out of gas. He has admitted to all those events, according to charging documents in 2nd District Court.

He told the two Ogden police detectives who arrested him he thought he had missed when he shot 66-year-old James Evans, his father-in-law. 

The single shot from the back of his neck broke Evans' jaw. Evans was initially listed in critical condition, but Tuesday, he was upgraded to fair condition at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden.

Jennings, 35, is charged with attempted murder and two counts each of aggravated burglary and aggravated robbery, all first-degree felonies, plus possession of a firearm by a restricted person, a second-degree felony.

He was arraigned Tuesday and is scheduled for a status conference this afternoon before Judge Michael Lyon. Bail is set at $105,000. 

Witnesses said Jennings' wife, Cheryl, daughter of the victim, had walked in with Jennings and the two were holding hands. She was in shock as Jennings fled after the shooting, said Deputy Weber County Attorney Dean Saunders, who filed the charges against Jennings.

"There is nothing to indicate she knew anything about it," he said. "She didn't know he'd planned anything."

She will likely be among the many witnesses against Jennings, he added, with 100 or more people in the church at the time.

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