By Don Dike-Anukam
Fallon, Nevada is very quiet, nice place to live. Yesterday, that quietude was shattered with the multiple shots fired inside a crowded house of worship. This is a place where a traffic stop is a big deal, much less a major shooting.
On Sunday, July 22, 2018 at 12:58 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at 750 Richards Street, multiple gunshots were allegedly fired by Fallon resident, John O’Connor, age 48.
Volunteer firefighter Charles “Bert” E. Miller, 61 of Fallon, died, and another victim was released from the hospital later in the evening with a single gunshot wound to the leg.
The motive of the shooting is unknown at this time. Authorities said today that O’Connor is being charged with murder and open battery.
Miller, the victim, is survived by a wife, three children, and several grandchildren. He is described as “pillar of the community.”
Without warning, the assailant fired at the two victims with “a mid-range caliber weapon” and then walked out of the church and over to his residence within a short walking distance.
Law enforcement surrounded his home, and O’Connor surrendered. Officers searched his home and found a handgun in the house that matched the description of the gun used at the church.
O’Connor was identified by name as the shooter by witnesses at the church.
I was attending mass at St Patrick’s Catholic Church at that hour when sanctuary and safety were being destroyed across the street. I was deep in thought and prayer for my thoughts and concerns for the coming week at work and school in Reno.
At approximately 1:30 p.m. I and the parishioners St. Patrick’s were exiting the building from Spanish Language Mass. I was greeted with the stern face of Nevada’s finest trained with an assault rifle pointed north on Tedford Lane behind his Nevada Highway Patrol vehicle surrounding the house where the assailant had barricaded himself.
A 5 p.m. press conference was held by Fallon mayor Ken Tedford, Chief of Police Kevin Gehman, Legal and Administrative Director Robert Erquiaga, and the city Communications Officer, Kaitlin Richey. In those brief 10 minutes at the conference the true magnitude of the tragedy that befell this community came to light.
This story is developing and may be updated as new details emerge.
Don Dike-Anukam is a political writer and contributor to ThisisReno.