A young father in mental distress and whose family say was also trying to rededicate his life to God, shot himself inside an Ohio church where he went to get help Monday night.
“He tried to commit suicide,” Jennifer LyAnn Prewitt, the mother of the distressed father, Vincent Veloz, 25, of Celina, told The Christian Post on Wednesday.
Deputies from the Darke County Sheriff’s Office told WHIOTV7 that Veloz went to speak with Pastor Tim Pol of Greenville Baptist Church on Monday evening, but things took a tragic turn as Veloz spoke with the pastor.
“He came to speak with me and the further we talked, the further I realized where the conversation was going and it wasn’t a good thing,” Pol said in the report.
Veloz got up during his conversation with Pol and took an AR-15 from his car in the parking lot, prompting Pol to rush members who were inside the church for a Bible study to safety, police said.
“I was already trying to call the police at that point, I was out here on the steps here but when I saw that, I went back inside and got all the folks that were in here downstairs to barricade themselves and all that — at the same time speak with the police and try to work with him,” Pol explained in the report.
Veloz went inside the front entrance of the church while keeping the gun pointed at himself and demanding that anyone from the church be removed, according to a release from the sheriff’s office.
Crisis negotiators and the Darke County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team arrived at the church at approximately 6:15 p.m. and tried to get Veloz to surrender for about three hours before he shot himself, according to police.
Greenville Baptist Church remained closed on Wednesday and officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment from CP.
While she is not sure what triggered her son’s suicidal behavior, Prewitt explained to CP that he was involved in a car accident on Feb. 16 after celebrating at a party for his 1-year-old daughter.
“On the 16th, the day of his daughter’s party, he was in a car accident. He got a concussion. He was taken to …. hospital where they treated him for a concussion, gave him some medicine. He did not work that night because he was obviously in pain. He had broken his nose and stuff,” she said.
Prewitt said Veloz returned to work at Ayden Healthcare of Greenville, where she also works, on Sunday night and colleagues noticed he was acting “strange.”
“He was acting very strange and different and the nurse sent him to a hospital in Greenville and the doctor there was very upset because the medicine that they gave him was not for concussions and the pain medicine he was given he was having an allergic reaction to it. That’s what was making him so out of whack,” Prewitt said. “So he came home that morning (Monday) and that afternoon is what he did at the church. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the medicine, concussion, personal issues he was having; I have no idea yet.”
A change.org petition which describes Veloz as “hilarious, loving, and kind” said that he was suffering from depression and needs therapy and not prison time for his actions. He is currently in critical condition at Dayton hospital and deputies have charged him with aggravated burglary for trespassing at the church with a deadly weapon. The case is still under investigation and Veloz might face additional charges.
“Vincent was struggling. He became severely depressed, having to split time with his 1-year-old daughter, who is undeniably his whole entire world. He attempted to get help, tried selling his gun, seeking a therapist. But was unsuccessful. (Proof publicly on his Facebook) On February 22, 2021, He went to his church with his gun in his hand, crying and asking forgiveness, and attempted suicide. Anyone who knows Vincent knows he would NEVER hurt anyone. He was only a threat to himself. He was so deeply depressed,” wrote the organizer of the petition Brittanee Schaupp.
Prewitt, who had four children, is praying that her youngest son doesn’t end up in jail. Just two years ago, her oldest son killed himself in the Darke County jail.
“My oldest son killed himself in the Darke County jail two years ago. So this is very tragic for our family, especially in that jail where his brother took his life. What is that going to do to his mental status?” the distraught mother asked.
“I believe that putting him in prison and giving him a felony, who is somebody who has a CNA, he wants to go to nursing school, I don’t think that’s going help him. I think that’s going to make it even worse because he needs some in-patient therapy,” she said.
She further explained that she wasn't sure if he was alive or dead for two hours after her son was airlifted to the hospital.
“He had a breathing tube. They were asking him about a DNR. He put on a paper that he wanted to be a DNR. Why would you ask somebody that question that tried to kill themself? He’s not in his right state of mind to make that decision.
"This is a kid who just tried to kill himself and I guess supposedly he put on a paper that he didn’t want anybody to know he was there. He didn’t want anybody to know about his situation, so we can’t even call the hospital because he’s not on the roster and we’ve not been able to get any information on how he’s doing,” Prewitt said. “I want to fight. I could not save my oldest boy, but I will do everything in my power to save my son.”
Prewitt has publicly apologized to Pastor Pol for what her son did at the church and she has spoken with him as well.
“I talked to him (pastor) yesterday and it was a wonderful conversation. He said that me, my son, we had no reason to apologize. Vincent was never a danger to them; he just was hurting and wanted to be there to do it (end his life),” Prewitt said.
She noted that her son had attended the church for a while but had stopped after moving away to another town. Before the accident, she said, he was getting ready to recommit his life to God.
“He had gone there for the longest time and he stopped because he moved to another town, and then that week he decided to take his 1-year-old daughter to get to meet everybody there and his whole plan was to start going there and getting back in with God and getting that support,” she explained.
The family is seeking to raise funds on a GoFundMe campaign to get legal and medical help for the ailing father.