Published January 25, 2007
The pastor of St. Patrick Church, Father Tom Hennessy, said he will bless and re-consecrate the property and grounds of the church this week as he guides his parish community in the wake of the killing of an unknown man in a back church parking lot Jan. 21.
The blessing “will be done privately” and prior to any of the upcoming weekend Masses on Jan. 27 and 28, Father Hennessy said.
He celebrated a special Mass at the parish for the homicide victim on Jan. 23 and will continue to ask the parish to pray for him.
“We had a special Mass for the dead this morning for the repose of his soul and for the souls of all those who die forgotten and have no one to pray for them,” the pastor said.
“We will, of course, tell the congregation to pray for this man and his family. Whatever happened here, it is great suffering upon anybody to die in a parking lot and be left there abandoned,” he continued.
He also said they are adding more lighting and better lighting to the parking lots and grounds and putting in place other security measures.
Meanwhile, Gwinnett County police are asking the public to help them identify the Hispanic man through a police sketch.
He was apparently shot and killed while the 5 p.m. Sunday evening Mass was being celebrated in St. Patrick Church. At the same time there was a heavy rainstorm.
The section of the parking lot was dark and isolated, the pastor said. “No cars were anywhere near.”
He speculated that may have created a false sense of security for whoever was there and whatever was taking place.
Now, he said, “we want to make sure we light up the whole of the parking lot, so people know that it will be taken care of, to deter anyone else. … I’m trying to make people feel secure here again.”
Most people in the church were unaware that anything had happened until they came out from Mass and found police cars there, Father Hennessy said.
“One person said they heard what they thought was a shot, they went outside and saw the body,” the pastor said.
Cpl. Darren Moloney of the Gwinnett County Police Department said both the county agency and the Norcross police received multiple 911 calls at about 5:45 p.m.
Police said it appears the man died “from gunshot wounds obtained during a confrontation. This was confirmed during a post-mortem examination.”
No identification, personal effects or other possessions typically used to identify a person were found.
He is not a person known in the parish, Father Hennessy said.
The pastor believes most people in the parish “feel it is an isolated event. It could have happened in any parking lot.”
Pat Chivers, communications director of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, described the night as “very, very sad.”
At the same time she emphasized that no one in the church that evening was in danger.
Police describe the victim as possibly of Central American origin, approximately 5-feet, 4-inches tall and weighing 216 lbs., with short black hair. He was wearing dark jeans, black boots, a white belt, and a white and blue checkered, long-sleeve, button-down shirt.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Gwinnett Police at (770) 513-5300 and ask for Detective S.K. Shaw of the Homicide Division.