Members of a regional church community are mourning after news that a 29-year-old pastor had allegedly been shot to death by his wife in Lemon Grove early on Monday evening.
Noah and Gabriella "Gabby" Shepherd and their two small children were residents on a street of single-family homes in the 2500 block of Camino de las Palmas until gunfire rang out shortly before 6 p.m.
Gabby allegedly told dispatchers on a 911 call that she had accidentally shot her husband when he entered their home through the back door according to Lt. Mike Arens with the San Diego Sheriff's Department. Investigators, however, ended up taking her into custody later that night, eventually bringing her to the Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility in Santee, where she now faces a charge of first-degree murder.
Deputies located Noah bleeding in the back yard, according to Lt. Tom Seiver of the San Diego County Sheriff's homicide unit. He was later brought to the hospital, where he died of his injuries.
Starting in 2013, Noah attended Providence Christan College in Pasadena, where he focused on biblical and theological studies, as well as the Westminster Seminary California, in Escondido, where he matriculated in 2016.
"Noah had many friends at Providence, and we have fond memories of his time here," A. Michael Kiledjian, Providence's vice-president for advancement, told NBC 7 on Tuesday via email. "By all accounts, he was an excellent student and consistently demonstrated exemplary Christian character. We deeply grieve over this tragic event and are in prayer for his family and loved ones."
Both Gabby and Noah's Facebook pages boast selfies of the couple in happier times, as well as wedding photos from their nuptials in August 2016. Tragically, her photo roll also includes shots of their sons, with Gabby referring to herself in her bio as "Mama to Sam and Joel."
Since November of last year, Noah had been the pastor at the San Diego Reformed Presbyterian Church, on College Boulevard in the 3400 block of College Boulevard in San Diego's Rolando neighborhood.
"He first came under care of our ministry three years ago," Colin Samul, a pastor who is associated with the Pacific Coast Presbytery who came down from Morena Valley to act as a moderator on the presbytery's behalf, told NBC 7 on Tuesday. "He came into our denomination and became a student under our care and was ordained last November."
Also on Tuesday, the presbytery released a statement regarding Noah's death:
“We will remember Rev. Shepherd for the hope of the gospel message he not only preached, but believed. We mourn, not as those without hope, but as those eagerly awaiting eternal life. This was Noah’s hope, and we rejoice that he is with his crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ, whom he loved and proclaimed. Out of respect for the grieving, we ask on behalf of the family and church members that they be permitted to grieve in peace.”
Pastor Nathan Eshelman is a leader with the Pacific Coast Presbytery and is also a pastor of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America's congregation in Orlando, Florida.
“I preached his ordination sermon back in November and was able to capture a video of him pronouncing the benediction for the first time," Eshelman texted to NBC 7 on Tuesday. "Noah was brilliant, a true scholar of the Bible and knew Greek and Hebrew quite well. He was a godly man, a good dad and husband, and extremely humble.”
Police have not yet disclosed a motive for Noah's killing.
Gabby is due in court for an arraignment at the El Cajon courthouse on Thursday afternoon. She is currently being held without bail.
Anyone with information on the case is encouraged to contact the sheriff's department at (858) 285-6330. Anonymous tips can be made by contacting Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.