Eastside Community Church on Wednesday held a community prayer service after the brutal murders of former members Chris and Gracie Hager.
The well-known Richmond couple were described as pillars of the community” by the Richmond police chief, were killed near the apartments they owned.
Meanwhile, Richmond police have charged a Kentucky man, Thomas C. Birl with murder after he allegedly shot and killed the owners of the apartment he was staying at. He then set the entire building on fire.
Over 200 attended the prayer service, which was held in conjunction with Wednesday night services at the church where they were once members.
Pastor Virgil Grant in his remark after he and his congregation mourned the loss of the couple said there are more questions than answers for those within the congregation. He added a passage of Scripture in Genesis 1:28 as words of healing, peace, and comfort.
“Life is not fair, but God is good and His grace is sufficient,” Grant told those in attendance. … “Whatever you need is found in Jesus Christ.”
According to the court report, 51-year-old Birl was arrested on Tuesday evening after he allegedly shot and killed the married couple.
Witnesses told police they heard gunshots and saw Birl shooting into a truck. Gracie Hager was found dead inside the truck and witnesses said he later shot Chris Hager outside the truck.
Birl barricaded himself in his apartment and set the building on fire, according to an arrest citation.
He was charged with two counts of murder, arson, evidence tampering, and criminal mischief.
On their arrival at the scene, police found out that two people had been shot, and the gunman had fled inside a residence. The shooter remained barricaded for nearly four hours before exiting the residence around 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Before his capture, Birl attempted to set the residence on fire by igniting a match which soon turned into a large structure fire. The fire was quickly extinguished by the Richmond Fire Department.
“The suspect eventually gave up and came out on his own,” Richmond Police Chief Rodney Richardson said.
Birl was later taken into custody and sent to a nearby hospital as a safety precaution where it was discovered that he sustained no injuries.
Madison County Coroner, Jimmy Cornelison, said Christopher Hager, 54, and his wife Gracie Hager, 52, were killed from multiple gunshot wounds.
“We are very saddened. The Hagers were pillars of the community and a lot of people know them and have had contact with them,” the police chief said.