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Compton pastor would be first to forgive his killer, family says

A person kneels and lights a candle.
Raymond Sanders of Compton lights candles Tuesday at a memorial for his uncle, the Rev. Reginald Moore.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

Reginald Moore often talked with family about salvation.

The Compton pastor touted that message at two family funerals, one at which his family buried an uncle Friday who died of natural causes. At the second, the family laid to rest his 27-year-old grandniece, Dominique Moore, who was shot and killed on the streets of Watts last month.

By Sunday, Moore’s family was planning his funeral after the 67-year-old was shot in the chest outside the church where he had just led a Bible study. He was holding a cane, a Bible and his car keys when he was found lying in the street.

Three people standing outside.
The Rev. Reginald Moore, shown with wife Sharron, left, and daughter Raquel, was fatally shot in the chest outside the Upper Room church, where he just led a Bible study lesson.
(Courtesy of Raymond Sanders)
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“The people who shot him had to knew he was coming from church, that he was defenseless, just a disabled, old man walking to his car,” said Raymond Sanders, Moore’s nephew.

At his last Bible study, Moore preached about anger and the importance of taking that emotion to God.

“He was discussing how you can be angry, but sin not. He was saying you can be angry, but still be a better person, a better man, a better father by not turning to anger,” Sanders said.

On Tuesday, Moore’s family was doing its best to take its anger to the Lord, but Sanders said his uncle would be the first person to forgive whoever shot him.

The availability of guns is fueling a surge in homicides and shootings in Los Angeles, police say, and activists are bracing for tough months ahead.

Moore was running to his car between Bible study and the main worship service at the Upper Room Christian Center when he was gunned down shortly before noon Sunday, family members said.

The shooter fled in a gray sedan near Compton Boulevard and Dwight Avenue, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The pastor was the intended target, but a motive for the shooting hasn’t yet been established, Sheriff’s Lt. Charles Calderaro said.

His family says Moore was not affiliated with any gangs and led a life dedicated to the church.

“He was the type of person to always talk about the word of God, and for him to just walk to his car after teaching about the Lord and get killed that way, well there just are no words,” said Sandra Gladney, Moore’s niece. “This killing spirit is the enemy. This is between good and evil. Who walks up to people with no conscience and just does this?”

Surrounded by loved ones at back-to-back family funerals in the days before he was killed, Moore found his familiar pastoral rhythm and asked again for his people to get right with God. He spoke about gang members putting down their guns and pleaded with people to go to church, family members said.

“He was out there trying to win souls,” said Gladney, who lives in Los Angeles.

Candles and red heart balloons on a sidewalk.
A memorial for the Rev. Reginald Moore on Oct. 26, 2021, in Compton.
(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

A testament to that soul-winning, a quiet memorial of candles and balloons was erected where Moore was killed, outside DNA Liquor and across the street from the Upper Room Christian Center, where he preached every Sunday.

Four months into 2021, life is returning to normal as vaccination efforts drive down COVID-19 infections. But L.A.'s elevated gun violence is not receding apace.

Christine Peggesse, who lives in Compton, did not keep in touch with her “Cousin Reggie” over the last decade, but reconnected with him at the family funerals. Moore invited her to church Sunday, and Peggesse agreed to attend the 11:30 a.m. service.

“The door was always open at his church. But as I pulled up to the parking lot, my family says he was shot,” Peggesse said. “So we didn’t even have church.”

Sanders said Moore often used an upbeat message when he talked about God and preached to gang members to turn their lives around.

“He was the last person we would think that harm would come to in this fashion,” said Sanders, who lives in L.A. He “was just a minister who wanted to get out the word of the Lord to anyone who would listen.”

“He was just always there for us,” Veronica Moore said. The Georgia resident last saw her uncle Saturday. It would be the last time they spoke.

“I just got back home Sunday morning, and they called me to say he was shot. To have someone who was always so full of jokes, so full of love, to get killed,” she said, “it’s just sad.”

Now, she is making plans to fly back to Los Angeles for one more funeral.

Anyone with information about the shooting can call Los Angeles County Crime Stoppers at (800) 222-8477. Callers can remain anonymous.


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