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Indiana missionary gunned down in Cameroon, family says

Charles Wesco "loved the Lord," said his brother, state Rep. Tim Wesco. The State Department said it had no further information.
Charles Wesco, his wife, Stephanie, and their children in an undated photo provided by a relative.
Charles Wesco, his wife, Stephanie, and their children in an undated photo provided by a relative.AP

A Baptist missionary who arrived in Cameroon about two weeks ago was shot and killed Tuesday, his family said.

Virgil Wesco, pastor emeritus of Fellowship Baptist Church in South Bend, Indiana, and his wife, Rebecca Wesco, told NBC affiliate WNDU of South Bend that their son Charles was killed as he and his wife were returning from shopping.

Robert Paladino, a spokesman for the State Department, confirmed that a U.S. citizen had been killed in Cameroon, but he said he had no further information. Armed separatists in the region have called for a boycott of local schools, contending that the French-language schools discriminate against English-speaking students.

Wesco's parents said their son and his family had spent the last two years planning for their mission to Cameroon. Charles and Stephanie Wesco moved to Cameroon with their eight children about two weeks ago, they said.

Wesco served as assistant pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church in South Bend, where his father is the pastor emeritus, his parents said.

"My husband has already prayed for his killer," Rebecca Wesco said. "Charles would want us to do that."

Virgil Wesco said: "He cared for the people, and he was willing to risk his life to go to them."

Wesco's younger brother, Indiana state Rep. Tim Wesco, who represents parts of Elkhart and St. Joseph counties, told WNDU that his brother "loved the Lord."

"He loved people," Timothy Wesco said. "The Lord giveth. The Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

Friendship Baptist said on its website that Charles and Stephanie Wesco, who were married in 2004, were accomplished musicians who played a variety of instruments, including piano, harmonica, euphonium and flute. Charles Wesco previously undertook missions to South Africa in 2003 and 2004, it said.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a statement that he and his wife, Janet, "are thinking of Rep. Tim Wesco and his family as they grieve the death of his brother Charles."

"We ask that all Hoosiers join us in offering prayers and condolences to the Wesco family," he said.