If 24-year-old Roberto Sanchez thought hitting a pastor’s home in suburban Houston would make an easy score, he discovered his mistake far too late.
Local media reports that United Methodist Church Rev. Jeff Powers and his wife Julie were awakened just before midnight on Saturday by a loud noise coming from their back yard. Going to investigate, they noticed their gate was open and saw someone creeping through their yard.
Both husband and wife retrieved their firearms while “the suspect forced his way and gained entry into the residence,” according to a police report.
That’s when the couple opened fire.
“At that point, they discharged their weapons several times at him and struck him,” a homicide detective at the scene told ABC station KTRK-TV in Houston.
The couple called 911, went outside, and placed their firearms on the ground to wait for first-responders to arrive. Firefighters pronounced Sanchez dead at the scene.
No charges were immediately filed against Powers and his wife, but a Houston Police Department spokesman told ABC News the case will be presented to a Harris County Grand Jury to decide whether charges will be filed.
Rev. Powers had been the pastor at Westminster United Methodist Church in west Houston. The shooting occurred the night before Powers had been set to deliver his final sermon before turning the church over to a new pastor, Shannon Martin, a spokeswoman for the United Methodist Church in Texas, told ABC News on Monday.
Powers is now the Senior Pastor of Christ Church United Methodist in The Woodlands, according to a Facebook post. It’s unclear whether he delivered his final sermon on May 5, the morning after the shooting, though the Westminster Church website has not posted a sermon from that Sunday.
Rev. Powers and his wife declined to speak to the media, telling ABC News that the couple “is not making any comments right now.”
The pastor does not appear to hold strong views on firearms or gun rights, according to a survey of his sermons and Facebook account. His only gun-related comment of the last year and a half appeared four days after the Parkland massacre. Rev. Powers shared an article titled, “One Teacher’s Brilliant Strategy to Stop Future School Shootings—and It’s Not About Guns.”
“Sometimes there are simple approaches to effectively dealing with complex problems,” he said.
In a statement, the United Methodist Church said Powers and his wife are “mourning the loss of life and cooperating fully with authorities.”