The California man charged with gunning down his estranged wife and two others in a New Jersey church was in stable condition after trying to kill himself Tuesday.

Joseph Pallipurath tried to kill himself by taking a lethal dose of prescription and nonprescription medications, including aspirin, according to Passaic County Sheriff's Department spokesman William Maer.

Maer said Pallipurath had been hoarding medications for some time.

The suicide attempt was thwarted by a corrections officer in the special unit where Pallipurath was being held, according to Maer, who said the guard noticed that the 27-year-old suspect had vomited on himself.

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Pallipurath was taken to St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center Tuesday.

"We believe he was never in a life-threatening situation," Maer said. "We knew he was someone we had to watch."

Pallipurath was put on a suicide watch after being extradited from Georgia, where he was found after authorities said he killed his wife and a man who came to her aid inside St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya Church on Nov. 23.

The suicide attempt was first reported Tuesday by The Record of Bergen County on its Web site.

Pallipurath is charged with murder, attempted murder and weapons offenses in the shootings of his estranged wife, 24-year-old Reshma James; 25-year-old Dennis John Mallosseril and a third victim at the St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya Church in Clifton, about 15 miles west of Manhattan.

Witnesses said Mallosseril came to James' aid when he saw Pallipurath arguing with her. James' 47-year-old cousin, Silvy Perincheril, was shot in the head.

Mallosseril's mother, Aley John, said Tuesday she had mixed feelings about Pallipurath's suicide attempt.

"I am stunned, I don't know whether somebody told him to do it to plead insanity or if he's fed up with life in jail, I really don't know," she said. "I just thought, because of him (Pallipurath), my son is not here. Because of him, my son went the way he went. I blame him for that, but at the same time, I feel sorry for his parents, because I know the hurt they are going through."

The Rev. Thomas Abraham, the head of the Knanayan church in Clifton, said Tuesday that church members had recently established a scholarship fund in Mallosseril's name.

Abraham said that Silvy Perincheril, the surviving victim, had emerged from a coma and been moved to a rehabilitation center, and was showing signs of improvement, though she is still unable to walk or fully communicate.

The shooting has reverberated the Knanaya community worldwide — a lesser-known, tiny sect of Syriac Orthodox whose members largely hail from the South Indian state of Kerala.

Abraham said church members were also praying for Pallipurath.

"Our prayers are that God forgives him," Abraham said. "We always pray for him, for God to help him, because he needs help."

Pallipurath's defense attorney, Moses Rambarran, did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.