The pastor killed his 21-year-old son, Jordan Caldwell, after intervening in a violent confrontation between his son and a woman at around 2 p.m. at their home in suburban Philadelphia, Darby Borough police said Friday.
Kirk Caldwell was lying in bed when several of his children came to tell him that his eldest son had just hit a girl and stolen her car, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by Philly.com.
Kirk Caldwell rushed downstairs to find his son "punching, hitting and throwing other family members around the house," according to the court documents.
The pastor tried to calm him down, but he was thrown to the floor, according to the affidavit. Kirk Caldwell ran back upstairs to find clothes. When he heard someone downstairs claiming Jordan Caldwell had a knife, which he regularly carried, he ran back down again, according to court documents.
The pastor then grabbed his .40-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun and drew it at his son, ordering him to stop, he told police. But his son kept inching forward and reached into his pocket.
I "just pulled the trigger," Jordan Caldwell said, according to court documents.
The pastor fired a single shot, striking his son in the chest, police Chief Robert Smythe said.
Then the pastor dropped to son's side and cradled his dying body, according to Philly.com. Jordan Caldwell died at a hospital shortly afterward, police said.
The gun was legally registered to him, Smythe said.
More than a dozen relatives were gathered to celebrate the holiday at the time of the shooting.
Smythe, who noted he had met Caldwell a couple of times, called the pastor a "very good man" and said he was "quite surprised." "I find this is not something I would expect this guy to do," Smythe said.
As a pastor at End Times Harvest Mission for Christ in Philadelphia, Kirk Caldwell had spoken against violence at a vigil for a slain teen in Darby last summer.
"Retaliation is never the answer. Retaliation is only going to make it worse," Caldwell said, according to the Daily Times of Delaware County.
Donald Mosby, 81, who has lived next door to Caldwell for a couple of years, said the pastor also worked as a plumber and seemed "like a moderate man." He said Caldwell used to shuttle parishioners to and from church in his vans.