WARREN - The Rev. Costas Valantasis said he knew that a dangerous situation was unfolding outside his church Sunday morning during what city police are calling a multiple shooting.
However, Valantasis said it wasn't until later in the day that he realized how tragic the matter was.
"I heard something going on outside, but it's not something you expect on a Sunday morning during church," he said. "Now that I think about it, it must have been the gunshots. But your mind just doesn't go there during worship. Now, realizing that someone died, that's a terrible thing to try to comprehend."
Valantasis, pastor at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 429 High St. N.E., Warren, said that a church leader alerted him that a shooting was taking place outside as Sunday morning worship service was being conducted inside.
Church leaders went into "lockdown" mode almost immediately, securing the doors to keep the shooters from entering the church. He said that one parishioner confronted individuals believed to be involved in the shooting.
Valantasis said that although he and a few other people were aware of what was going on, church leaders felt it was in the best interest of parishioners to maintain the status quo.
"It wasn't until after the service that most people realized what had happened," he said. "We just felt that was best for everyone."
According to reports, at least 40 shots were fired just before 10:30 on Elm Court between East Market Street and Elm Road, just around the corner from the church.
One shooting victim, Marco Dukes, 32, of 866 Swallow St., died at Metro Health Center in Cleveland after being transported there by helicopter. Another, Larry Smith, 29, 2305 Jackson St. S.W., remained at Trumbull Memorial Hospital Sunday night, where he was being treated for his wounds.
Police said they were questioning two unnamed, uncharged men officers had apprehended shortly after the shooting.
According to reports, people involved in the gunfire ran in a northeast direction to a location between 156 and 164 Elm Road. Police said that at one point Smith flagged down a car that had two women inside it.
A Warren woman, who identified herself to Tribune Chronicle newspartner WYTV 33 News as ''Jackie,'' said she was on her way to church when her daughter noticed something unusual. She said she transported a man who had been shot to the hospital.
She said there was another man with him, limping like he had also been shot, but he left.
"I just pulled over and he started hobbling to the car and I just said, 'Jump get into the car, get in the car,' so he got into the back seat of my car," Jackie told 33 News.
The former medical worker knew she had to get the man to the hospital.
"He was shot in the chest," Jackie said. "Chest, upper abdomen and it went all the way through because my whole back seat is just covered with blood right now."
Some neighborhood residents reported hearing what sounded like a shootout. However, when a Tribune Chronicle reporter knocked on their doors to seek comments, they said they did not want to get involved.
"There was a lot of tension in the air," Warren police Sgt. Joseph O'Grady said. "The situation was pretty heated and intense at one point."