Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
OGDEN — The man accused of walking into a church hand-in-hand with his wife before shooting his father-in-law in the head as the victim knelt to pray, was charged Tuesday with attempted murder.
Charles "Ricky" Jennings, 35, is also charged with aggravated robbery and two counts of aggravated burglary, first-degree felonies; and possession of a firearm by restricted person, a second-degree felony.
Jennings appeared in 2nd District Court via video from the Weber County Jail to be informed of the charges.
On Sunday, police say Jennings walked into the St. James the Just Catholic Church, 495 N. Harrison Blvd., after Mass had begun. Within moments of entering, he walked over to the back pew toward Jim Evans, Jennings' father-in-law, and shot him without saying a word, according to police.
The bullet entered near Evans' right ear and exited through his opposite cheek. Doctors say Evans has several more procedures and reconstruction surgeries ahead of him, but he is expected to make a full recovery. He was upgraded to fair condition on Tuesday at McKay-Dee Hospital Center and was moved out of the intensive care unit.
Jennings was arrested about 3 ½ hours after the shooting. He allegedly ran to a neaby neighborhood and at first entered the house of Shannon Spainhower, who had just gotten out of the shower.
"I looked up, turned around, and there was a man with a gun, a pretty scary-looking person. I was in shock. I was afraid. I wasn't wearing much. He kept muttering, 'Your car, your car.' I kept saying, 'Get out. I'm naked. Get out of my house.' He kept mentioning, 'Your car, your car,'" she recalled.
Spainhower ran from her house and said Jennings chased her, threatening to shoot. She was able to make it to a friend's house safely.
Police say Jennings then went to another neighbor who was watering his garden and carjacked a vehicle. The pickup he allegedly stole at gunpoint eventually ran out of gas and police say he called family who alerted police to his location.
A motive for the crime was still unknown Tuesday. Police said Monday there had been incidents of domestic violence recently between Jennings and his wife that had extended into her family but did not provide any details. The Rev. Erik J. Richtsteig, pastor at St. James, also confirmed there had been threats made recently by Jennings against Evans but declined to elaborate.
Detectives said drugs and/or alcohol may have been factors. As of Monday, police said there was no evidence to suggest Jennings' wife knew what was going to happen.
The Rev. Richtsteig said his church would be given a blessing on Thursday to rid it of the evil that happened inside.
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