An Orthodox priest who scolded a trio of drunken men for urinating in the hallway outside his apartment was shot dead by one of them in the Moscow region city of Podolsk, marking the second slaying of a priest in recent weeks.
Oleg Shekhov, a 38-year-old Podolsk resident previously convicted in a separate murder, admitted in televised comments to shooting the priest, Alexander Filipov, 39, with an air pistol modified to fire regular bullets late Tuesday.
“It was a mistake,” Shekhov, a thin man wearing a green jacket and a black baseball cap, said after investigators brought him in handcuffs to the crime scene Wednesday. “Nothing was premeditated.”
Investigators said Filipov had tried to stop Shekhov and two friends from urinating in the entryway of the apartment building where he lived with his family on the ground floor.
Shekhov was detained hours after he shot Filipov, even though he tried to send investigators on a false trail by collecting bullet casings from the crime scene and planting them and the air pistol in the car of a friend, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin.
“Filipov wanted to reprimand a group of three drunken men who were behaving badly near his apartment building, and one of them shot him,” Markin said on NTV television.
Two other suspects have been detained. Investigators did not release their names.
If charged and convicted of murder, Shekhov could face up to life in prison.
A police search of Shekhov’s apartment turned up a hunting rifle, a knife and a taser, the Investigative Committee said in a statement.
Television footage showed flowers lying on the stairs inside the shabby apartment block where the priest had lived with his wife and three children. Filipov, the head of a local church that he had rebuilt from scratch in the early 1990s, was a popular figure in Podolsk, local residents said.
“He was a very kind and very responsive man who always was ready to help,” said Lidia Boldyreva, a teacher at a school in the neighborhood where Filipov lived.
Russian Orthodox Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida called Filipov an “outstanding man” on NTV.
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill opened a meeting of top Orthodox priests with a prayer for Filipov. More than 1,000 priests stood during the prayer, Interfax reported.
Last month, another Orthodox priest,Danil Sysoyev, who led a parish in southern Moscow, was gunned down in his church by an unidentified attacker. Sysoyev was a well-known critic of Islam and neo-paganism and had received many threats in recent years.