DANVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Michael Hockensmith, 35, a part-time youth minister, and his wife Angela, 38, were killed Friday morning (Sept. 20) during a robbery attempt at their pawn shop, ABC Gold, Games and More in Danville, Ky.
A third victim was Daniel Smith, 60, a gold buyer from Richmond, Ky., who local authorities think may have been the target.
At a candlelight prayer vigil Sunday evening at the Boyle County Courthouse, Mitchellsburg Baptist Church pastor Brett Benton urged those in mourning to seek solace through prayer. Hockensmith had been leading the church’s youth work.
“Let us accept Jesus Christ and turn to Him for our healing because there is no other way but to lay this at the foot of the cross,” Benton was quoted by the Lexington Herald-Leader as saying.
Earlier that day, Benton said the church had come together for a time of healing, “hugging together and praying together.”
“It was a very emotional day,” the pastor told the Western Recorder, newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. “It was the beginning steps of healing. We are continuing to pray, lean on each other for strength and lean on God for His strength.”
Benton described the Hockensmiths as energetic and loving people. “They would be there for anybody whom they could help out,” the pastor said.
Benton and Hockensmith had attended Clear Creek Bible College in Pineville, Ky., at the same time and had reconnected at the church.
Also in the store at the time of the shooting were the Hockensmiths’ two children, Andrew, 9, and Naomi, 1. Andrew was homeschooled and the children often spent time at the store.
Steve Divine, co-owner of the store and a family friend, said Andrew carried his baby sister into the office, locked the door and called 911, describing what he said was a robbery, the local Advocate Messenger reported.
Although a sign on the business identifies it as a pawn shop, Divine told the newspaper that he and the Hockensmiths had been in the process of revamping the store into more of a thrift shop after purchasing it a few months ago.
The suspect is still at large and a $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest, according the Danville Police Chief Tony Gray.
Director of missions Jim Clontz, in expressing the grief and condolences of sister churches, said, “South District Baptist Association has been profoundly affected by the murder of one of our ministers and his wife. We are especially grieved that their children, Andrew and Naomi, must now face a future without a dad and a mother. Please join us in praying for them.”
A memorial fund has been established with PNC Bank in Danville, Ky., to help family members pay for funeral expenses and to start a trust fund for the children, who are living with grandparents.
Compiled by Todd Deaton, editor, and Robin Cornetet Bass, news director, of the Western Recorder in Louisville, Ky.