Deputies: Church employee charged after firing shots at pastor

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — Deputies said an Osceola County church employee has been charged after he opened fire on a pastor, who then pulled out his own gun and shot the employee.

The exchange of gunfire happened at the Living Water Fellowship Church on Pleasant Hill Road around 8 a.m.

According to investigators, a meeting was taking place to terminate the employment of maintenance worker Benjamin Parangan, Jr. Deputies said Parangan, 47, pulled out a gun and fired several shots at Pastor Terry Howell.

Howell was not injured, but he returned fire with his own gun, striking Parangan. Parangan was taken to Osceola Regional Medical Center, where he is in stable condition.

Members of the church told Channel 9 they were shaken up after hearing about the incident.

"To hear it happened here in my neighborhood, and not only my neighborhood, but my church, it's shocking," said Robert Quintana.

"It's just a tough situation right now," said Gabriel Colon.

Several church employees witnessed the shooting and gave similar statements to detectives about what happened.

"There is a child care facility on the property at the church. It was not affected in any way by this isolated incident," said Twis Lizauain, of the Osceola County Sheriff's Office.

Detectives were seen serving a search warrant at Parangan's Osceola County home Tuesday night. It's unclear what, if anything, was found in the house.

Investigators told Eyewitness News that Howell's involvement is being investigated as a case of self-defense.

"It could happen anywhere though, (in) the times we live in. Really unfortunate," said Quintana.

Parangan has been charged with aggravated assault with intent to kill. He will be booked into the Osceola County Jail after he's released from the hospital.

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