Catholic faithful of Saint Thomas Moore Catholic Church, Sobe community in Owan West local government area of Edo state,in southern Nigeria, were Sunday jolted as the Priest who was to conduct the morning mass, Reverend Father Peter Ayala, was found dead in his apartment.
It was gathered that the clergyman, the parish administrator was cleaning his dane gun inside his apartment within the church premises, when the gun accidentally went off, killing him on the spot. He was yet to dress up for the 8 a.m service before the tragedy.
Worshippers who had waited for the morning service to commence were said to have run in confusion and in different directions when they heard the sound of the gun.
lders and mass servers of the church were said to be shocked to their marrow when they forced the doors to the apartment of the Priest open and found him lying flat in his pool of his own blood.
The incident was immediately reported by the church Elders to the Bishop of the Auchi Diocese, Dr Gabriel Duniya, who later conducted a quick investigation with security agents and confirmed that the priest died when the rifle he was cleaning went off.
When contacted, the Edo State Police Command Public Relations Officer, DSP Moses Eguavoen described the incident as unfortunate, adding that the Command was yet to get the full details of what transpired before the Priest’s death.
The Auchi Diocese on its website said it is still awaiting the report of the police on the tragedy. It said the fatal shot came from Ayala’s dane gun.
Fr. Ayala who was also the Dean of Deanery four (4) in the diocese, was 46 years old.
He was ordained 28th of June 1997 and has served as a priest at St. Patrick, Ugbowo in Benin Archdiocese, St. Anthony, Ewatto in Uromi Diocese, St. Mary, Iviukwe, Holy Family, Igiode, All Saints, Ighaewo. His last posting, St. Thomas Moore, Sobe in the Diocese of Auchi is his birthplace.