Pastor who spoke out for Ted Cruz is doing 'absolutely fine' after being shot in the head

Forty-eight hours after praising the rise of Ted Cruz as “nothing short of a miracle” during a rally for the Republican presidential candidate, an Idaho pastor was experiencing a miracle of his own Monday – recovering from a bullet to the head and other gunshot wounds sustained in an ambush outside a Coeur d'Alene church.

Tim Remington, a popular leader of the community’s religious right, was shot six times Sunday afternoon by a suspect authorities identified as a 30-year-old former Marine, Kyle Andrew Odom of Coeur d’Alene. A manhunt was underway Monday to find him and a silver Honda that sped from the Altar Church parking lot.

The daylight shooting was caught on security video, authorities said. The resort town’s police chief, Lee White, termed Odom armed and dangerous and said he should be “taken off the streets as quickly as possible.”

Though rushed to Kootenai Health and Medical Center in critical condition after being shot in the skull, lung, shoulder and hip, the California-born Remington, 55, was later upgraded to fair and was doing “absolutely fine,” according to the church’s associate pastor, John Padula.

Security video, Padula told the Spokesman-Review newspaper, showed the suspect attending a Sunday service at the church in northeast Coeur d’Alene, a city of 46,000 residents about 35 miles east of Spokane. The suspect, who wasn’t a church member, waited in the parking lot after Remington finished his sermon and prepared to leave.

As the pastor got in his car, the video showed, the suspect came up and began shooting him in the back. “It didn't look like the first time he had shot,” Padula said. “He stood pretty professional as he was shooting.”

A family friend, John Crigger of nearby Kellogg, said he talked with Remington’s wife at the hospital and “as far as I understand it, Tim Remington will simply have more reason to boast in the Lord.” On his Facebook page, Crigger wrote: “Shot six times and not ONE vital hit.... Emergency room Tech's and Dr.s are calling this a miracle.”

The motive for the shooting puzzled the family, as well as church and police officials. Remington's ministry included counseling and housing drug addicts, some with criminal records who had threatened the pastor in the past, officials said without elaboration.

His church opposes abortion and same-sex marriage, according to its website, based on literal interpretations of the Bible. “We believe,” Remington said in a posted message, “that Jesus Christ is the answer for every one of life's problems and the Bible is our guide to living the Christian life.”

The parents of four children, Remington and his wife, Cindy, started the Altar Church 18 years ago, according to a church biography. The pastor was born in Riverside, moved to Coeur d'Alene as a teenager, later returned to Southern California, met and married Cindy and became a pastor in Loma Linda. The couple subsequently ran a coffee house in San Bernardino and ministered to street people, “those who have problems with drugs, alcohol and perversion,” the biography says.

In the Southland, and later in Idaho, the Remingtons began a program of taking needy people into their home as part of their family. Over the last couple of decades, they have had more than 300 live-in guests, according to a church web page.

At a Saturday rally for Cruz that drew an estimated 3,000 people to the nearby county fairgrounds – Idaho’s Republican primary is Tuesday – Remington pumped up the crowd, telling supporters, “We’ve been waiting for someone representing God for a long time!” He then gave the rally invocation, describing Cruz’s candidacy as “nothing short of a miracle in this nation.”

The Cruz campaign released a statement saying, “We pray for his full recovery” and hope “the attacker is swiftly brought to justice.”

According to Odom’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages, he served in the Marine Corps from 2006-10, partly as a flight equipment technician at Camp Pendleton, reaching the grade of corporal, and earned an Iraq Campaign Medal. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Idaho in 2014, earning a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry, and volunteered with Meals on Wheels and Habitat for Humanity.

A statement released Monday by Odom’s family said they were “devastated by Sunday's events. We are praying for Pastor Tim, his family and his continued recovery. We are also praying for Kyle's safe return and to get the help he needs. We love you Kyle!”

Anderson is a special correspondent.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times


4:45 p.m.: The story was updated with Times staff reporting.

The story was originally posted at 12:17 p.m.