By Victor Ochieng
A member of Keystone Fellowship Church in Montgomeryville, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison for fatally shooting a worshiper in church after an argument over seats. The man will serve the time in state prison before transitioning to a two-year probation period.
Mark T. Storms shot 27-year-old Robert E. Braxton III of Lower Gwynedd on April 24, 2016, inside Keystone Fellowship Church.
Montgomery County Judge Gary S. Silow termed the killing a “sad, sad situation” saying that Storms had no legal justification to shoot Braxton.
“There was no justification whatsoever for you to intercede. I believe you’re a danger to society,” Silow told Storms at his sentencing.
“The fact he was killed by Mr. Storms in a place of worship is almost unbelievable, beyond comprehension,” Silow added, pointing to the grief Storms’ act has subjected Braxton’s family to. “This is such a sad, sad situation. It’s just a horrible tragedy on so many levels.”
Montgomery Township Police and other law enforcement officers stated that more than 50 interviews of witnesses in the case revealed that Braxton arrived at the church for 11 a.m. service, but remained evidently agitated and verbally disruptive.
Michael Hendrie, who was interviewed by the police, said he was just about some 10 to 15 feet away from the exact spot of the shooting. Hendrie said Braxton came in and went for a seat and a man tapped him on the shoulder and appeared to inform him that the seats were occupied. Braxton turned to the man and told him, “Why do you have to [expletive] touch me? Don’t [expletive] touch me again.”
Storms, a member of Keystone Fellowship Church, told the police that he was seated somewhere in the overflow with his wife and son when the whole commotion erupted. When he turned to look at what was going on, he saw Braxton push an usher who’d tried to calm things down. Braxton started threatening them and using his fingers to poke them in the face. Ushers decided to move parishioners out of the area and it’s at that point that Storms moved in closer and spoke to Braxton, saying, “Sir, can you step outside with me?”
Braxton then answered him, saying, “Don’t put your hands on me,” and “I don’t have to go outside.”
Braxton stood there in clenched fists. Seeing that Braxton wasn’t about to back down, he raised his shirt and put his hand on his weapon but didn’t draw it. On seeing that, Braxton punched him in the face, so hard that it stunned him.
That wasn’t the end of it; Braxton charged towards him with both hands clenched. On sensing danger, Storms drew his gun and fired two shots.