Church deacon killed in his home hours after Sunday worship

SELMA, North Carolina -- A church deacon was shot and killed inside his home hours after Sunday worship.

Alvin Demetrus Harris, 50, is in jail without bond accused in the murder, according to the Johnston County Sheriff's Office.

Harris is accused of killing 66-year-old Vondell Bethune.

The pair were second cousins and lived together in a house in Selma. Bethune was a deacon at White Oak Hill Missionary Baptist Church in northern Johnston County.

"It is devastating," said Pastor James Perry. "Our hearts are broken. This is just another senseless act of violence."

He said Bethune's passion was helping people in need.

"It's a great loss, not only for our church but also for this community," Perry said.

JoAnn Cornish, Bethune's step-sister, said he served God happily.

"He's a man of God. He's a man that served the Lord, that served other people," she said.

She also said that the family still loves the suspect.

"Sometimes when people are hurting they make irrational decisions," Cornish said. "Alvin is still our family. We still love him and God still loves him so we have to forgive."

Bethune's family said the shooting happened after the victim asked Harris to move out and the two began arguing.

Johnston County Sheriff's Office has not commented on a possible motive or the circumstances leading up to the shooting.

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