Cops: Phila. pastor shot son
Christmas killing in Darby Borough
Pastor Kirk Caldwell wrote last year that at age 15, he found God.
Yesterday, on Christmas, 29 years after he found God, he found himself in the most ungodly of situations.
Police said Caldwell, 44, a father of eight, shot his son Jordan, 21, once in the chest shortly before 2 p.m. during a gathering of between 15 and 18 family members at his home on Ridge Avenue near Main Street in Darby Borough.
Within the hour, Jordan Caldwell was pronounced dead at Mercy-Fitzgerald Hospital in Darby, according to police.
The younger Caldwell was engaged in a physically violent domestic situation with a woman, possibly his girlfriend, Darby Police Chief Robert Smythe said.
"From what we're getting, it was extremely violent," Smythe said. "The father somehow became involved in this domestic thing, and at some point the father had a gun registered to him and fired one shot, striking the boy in the chest."
Kirk Caldwell stayed at the scene until police arrived and cooperated with detectives during questioning, Smythe said.
He will be charged with a crime, but just what charges he will face was uncertain pending police interviews with the numerous witnesses - which continued well into last night - and a review of the case by the Delaware County District Attorney's Office. Smythe said he expected Caldwell to be arraigned sometime this morning.
The violent incident came as a shock to those who know Kirk Caldwell, including neighbors and Smythe.
Caldwell, a pastor at the End Times Harvest Mission for Christ, on Cheltenham Avenue near 18th Street in West Oak Lane, was an outspoken voice against violence this summer when a 17-year-old was fatally shot on a Darby street in July.
"God has said, 'Vengeance is mine,' " Caldwell was quoted by the Delaware County Daily Times as saying at a vigil for the fallen teen. "He can do a better job of it than you can. Retaliation is never the answer. Retaliation is only going to make it worse."
Smythe, who said he met Caldwell a couple of times, was "quite surprised" by yesterday's events.
"I find this is not something I would expect this guy to do," he said.
Donald Mosby, 81, who has lived next door to Caldwell since he and his family moved in a couple of years ago, said Caldwell seemed "like a moderate man."
He said Caldwell worked as a plumber as well as a pastor, and that he used two of the five vans he owned to shuttle parishioners to and from church.
Caldwell and his wife, Sharron, served as foster parents and were redoing the garage behind their home to serve as a rehearsal space for some of their children who played instruments at the church, Mosby said.
"He had good intentions," Mosby said. "He was originally from North Philly, which is a bad area, but he seemed to survive it well."
In his MySpace profile, Kirk Caldwell calls his wife "wonderful" and his eight kids "beautiful."
"My life right now is wonderful because Jesus came into my heart," he wrote on his profile. "What a wonderful joy I have and the world can't take it away. I am a mighty man of God."
Mosby said that on Thursday, one of the Caldwell sons went into the middle of the street cursing and seemed to be drinking. He did not know whether it was Jordan Caldwell.
When Mosby heard the shot yesterday afternoon, he thought it had come from up the street, until one of Caldwell's daughters ran out of the house yelling on her cell phone: " 'He shot, he shot my brother!' " Mosby said.
"I said to myself, 'Of all days.' This is one Christmas they'll never forget," Mosby said.