When Richard Riddle saw his son walk past the windows at the Hiawatha Church of God in Ashtabula during Easter services, he tried to cut the 28-year-old man off before he entered the church.
Witnesses said when the 52-year-old confronted his son, Reshad Riddle, at the church doors, the son shot his father once in the chest, killing him.
Reshad Riddle then walked into the church and up to pulpit with his gun and chanted sayings until police arrived shortly after and asked for his weapon.
Reshad Riddle entered no plea Monday at his initial appearance in Ashtabula Municipal Court on charges of aggravated murder, having weapons as a felon and carrying a concealed weapon. He is being held in the Ashtabula County Jail on $1 million bond. A psychiatric evaluation was ordered.
Riddle faces life in prison on the aggravated murder charge. Death penalty specifications could be added by a county grand jury. Riddle faces additional penalties of up to 6.5 years in prison on the two weapons charges.
“I have done no wrong,” Riddle told the judge on Monday. “By whose laws have I broken? The laws of the state of Ohio?”
At times, Riddle’s answers to the judge were bizarre.
“I have done no wrong. What I have done was cleared my DNA from a blood oath taken out over 25 years ago. It’s Isha Allah, self, Lord, master, no one over me,” Riddle said.
Police said church service had just ended at about 1 p.m. Sunday when the shooting took place in a church filled with about 150 people, mostly children.
Police are still looking for a motive, saying the two did have a fight prior to the shooting. When they arrested Riddle, he had a gun, two knives and a copy of the Koran on him.
Hiawatha Church of God Deacon Michael Wofford said Riddle grew up at the church and couldn’t believe it was him standing at the pulpit, holding a gun in the air and praising Allah.
“You didn’t know what he is going to do, hold us hostage, or you know, start opening fire on us or rob us or what,” Wofford said. “What could be that bad to make someone kill his own father, so I’m thinking to myself he wasn’t in his right mind.”
Those who knew the victim, Richard Riddle, said he was just a nice guy.
“He was a gentle person he was a helpful person he would help anyone, he was always friendly,” said associate pastor Steve Sargent.
“I was shocked. Actually of all the people on my route, I probably know him the best and I liked him a whole lot,” said Paul Zander, who delivered the victim’s mail.
Church officials are working on bringing in grief counselors to help out anybody that was inside the church at the time of the shooting.
Reshad Riddle has been convicted of several violent attacks before, according to a search of court records.
He entered an Alford Plea, the felony equivalent to a no-contest plea, in 2007 to charges of aggravated assault. He had originally been charged with felonious assault and abduction for cutting his girlfriend’s throat, reports said. He was sentenced to nine months in jail, reports said.
Reshad Riddle was charged in 2008 with felonious assault again and entered an Alford Plea to aggravated assault charges. He and was sentenced to one year in prison.
Riddle also pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine and possessing drugs in 2010. He was sentenced to two years probation on both convictions. He finished probation in June 2012.