Church member charged in fatal shooting after victim wouldn't give up seat

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Thursday, April 28, 2016
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District Attorney Kevin Steele announces charges in a fatal church shooting.

MONTGOMERYVILLE, Pa. -- The Montgomery County District Attorney's Office says a man displayed a badge he purchased online to a fellow church member prior to shooting him to death during Sunday morning service.

District Attorney Kevin Steele announced the charges of Voluntary Manslaughter and Reckless Endangerment against 46-year-old Mark Storms of Lansdale.

27-year-old Robert Braxton III of Montgomeryville was killed during a service Sunday at Keystone Fellowship Church on the 400 block of Stump Road in Montgomeryville.

PHOTOS: Deadly shooting at Montgomery County church

According to Steele, the incident began when the victim created a disturbance during the service.

"Braxton was creating a disturbance during the 11 a.m. church service after a fellow church member sitting behind him touched his shoulder, apparently telling him that he'd taken an already occupied seat," Steele said.

Witnesses say they saw church ushers and an associate pastor intervene and talk to Braxton. They then left with him remaining in the seat.

"Witnesses then saw the victim calming down and saw the shooter come over. When he came over he had a gun out," Steele said.

Storms, who authorities say has no official function with the church or any history of law enforcement, approached Braxton and displayed a Concealed Weapons Permit badge. He then told Braxton he had to leave the sanctuary.

"The badge that defendant showed the victim was a permit to carry a concealed weapon that he seemingly purchased online," Steele said.

Authorities say Braxton took a swing at Storms, punching him in the jaw.

Storms then fired two shots from his .9mm semi-automatic handgun, striking and killing Braxton.

Steele says the shooting was not a reasonable self-defense situation.

"It is clear the shooter brought a gun to a crowded church, he introduced that gun into a verbal altercation that turned into a fistfight, and then fired the gun twice aiming at the vital part of the body, killing the victim," Steele said.

Authorities say they conducted more than 50 witness interviews.

An autopsy performed on Braxton determined he died of multiple gunshot wounds. The manner of death was ruled a homicide.