NEW YORK - Friends and family of Edward "Swain" James, 62, joined together in prayer, grieving the loss of the beloved church caretaker who was gunned down while giving back to the community he loved.
"Church should be a safe haven. It may have been our church today, but what church will it be at tomorrow," Bishop David Lindsay said.
James spent most of his time at the Glorious Church of God and Christ in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn where he was either working or attending Sunday services.
"He was the caretaker then, the caretaker for my father, for the church," Lindsay said. "He was the caretaker for everybody in the neighborhood."
On Monday evening, while watching over the church, James was shot in the torso. EMS rushed him to Kings County Medical Center but he couldn't be saved.
Lindsay said James had been a caretaker at the church for more than 20 years. And while he hit a few road bumps along the way, faith always got James back on track, Lindsay said.
"Swain had a little trouble in his life, he became an alcoholic, and one of our family members said, 'Here, let me help you,'" the bishop said.
Those who knew James jokingly called him the "mayor" of the neighborhood and said his larger-than-life personality, love, and levity will stick with them forever.
Police said the investigation is ongoing and have not made any arrests yet.