OAK HILL, WV (WOAY) – A pastor’s wife of a church in Oak Hill has been charged with wanton endangerment.
According to Fayette County Deputies, a call came in for shots fired at the New Life Apostolic Church in Oak Hill, on Saturday, May 11, 2019. When deputies arrived, Earl Toney Jr., the pastor, stated that “his wife, (Melinda Toney), was getting into her purse for medicine and had her pistol in her hand and began having a seizure”. The pastor told authorities that a woman grabbed his wife from falling and he grabbed the gun. As he was grabbing the gun, it went off due to his wife being tensed up due to a seizure.
According to witnesses and surveillance footage, deputies say many discrepancies were observed from the statement the pastor and his wife gave. According to deputies, the video surveillance appeared to show Mrs. Toney intentionally grabbing what appeared to be a handgun from her purse, and that Mr. Toney grabbed her after the first shot went off.
During the investigation, deputies spoke to Lori Haywood, the youth pastor’s wife. Haywood stated that in the weeks leading up to this incident there had been some tension between her and Melinda Toney. The pastor, youth pastor, and their wives were having a sit down when things became escalated, and they just wanted to leave the church. Haywood stated when they went outside that it was clear that Toney had a firearm, and that the firearm went off, and that Mr. Toney grabbed her and restrained her while they left.
Deputies say Toney discharged the firearm in the parking lot in clear view of women and children, which created a substantial risk of injury or death.
Toney was arrested on August 21, 2019, and is currently out on bond.