The Lemon Grove mother accused of killing her husband, a pastor at a church in San Diego, is scheduled to be arraigned on a charge of murder on Thursday.
San Diego County Sheriff's Department homicide detectives say Gabriella Shepherd, 26, killed her husband, Noah Shepherd, 29, in the backyard of their Lemon Grove home Monday night while their two young children were inside.
Investigators say Gabriella Shepherd told 911 dispatchers she had accidentally shot her husband. By the end of the night, she was in jail facing homicide charges.
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Noah Shepard was the pastor at San Diego Reformed Presbyterian Church in Rolando. Members of his congregation are still in shock over Noah’s death.
“He cared about people. He cared about those who suffer, those who struggle, those who have issues in their life,” said Colin Samul, a fellow pastor and friend.
“When I heard the details of what happened I was numb. There are no words,” said Erik O'Dell, a friend who attended seminary school with Noah in Escondido.
O'Dell said he was friends with both of the Shepherds.
“There was just no indication that anything was other than good. They just welcomed their second boy not too long ago,” O'Dell said.
While Noah Shepard's friends grieve, they’re also trying to remember the good times.
“He came to my birthday party. Karaoke birthday party and went up and sang himself and did a really good job. We had a lot of fun together,” O'Dell said.
The Shepherds' next-door neighbor Katy Wilson said she was in her own backyard when she heard what she thought was the bang of a hammer.
“I said, 'Oh, I guess he’s hammering,' because there were three more shots, I guess, and then quiet, and I thought, 'Oh, I guess he fixed whatever he was hammering,'" Wilson said.
Moments later, deputies flooded the streets, but it still wasn't obvious to Wilson what had occurred.
"No screaming, no fighting, no nothing," Wilson said, describing what she heard before what she now knows were gunshots. "It’s very mysterious.”
Adding to the mystery is Wilson's positive impression of the family next door.
"They seemed like a nice family. They had two cats and a new puppy, and they had the two little kids and they were young," she said.
The confusion over the killing extends to members of the Shepherds' church community.
"This man adores his wife and she adores him, friend Colin Samul said. "This is completely unexpected. He was a godly man, he was humble, he cared about people.”
The couple’s children are now in the care of Gabriella Shepherd’s mother.