A second victim of a weekend church shooting died Monday, leaving one survivor who was in extremely critical condition, authorities said. The estranged wife of the alleged gunman, who remained at large, also died in the attack.
Dennis John Mallosseril, 25, a bystander in the shootings, died of head wounds suffered in Sunday's shooting at St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya Church, which caters to immigrant families from the southern Indian state of Kerala.
The search for the suspect, Joseph M. Pallipurath, focused on Georgia, where he has relatives, Passaic County Prosecutor James Avigliano said. Pallipurath's father was among those calling upon him to surrender.
Pallipurath, 27, had come from Sacramento, California, and allegedly killed his wife, Reshma James, 24, authorities said. She had been staying with relatives near Clifton since leaving Sacramento, where they lived.
James' cousin, Silvy Perincheril, 47, also was shot in the head and was in "extremely critical" condition Monday, Avigliano said.
"Turn yourself in," Mallosseril's cousin Jacob Abraham said outside the church Monday, after traveling from Houston to be with his grieving family. "He has to get his punishment, whether it's from the justice system or from God."
Abraham said a friend of Mallosseril's told him that Mallo7sseril was trying to break up an argument between Joseph Pallipurath and James and Perincheril when Pallipurath opened fire with a handgun.
The prosecutor said Mallosseril did not know the family.
James had taken out a restraining order against Pallipurath, Avigliano said. Their marriage had been arranged, he said.
"She found out he wasn't all he was cut out to be," Avigliano said. "He was abusive toward her, and she left him and came out here."
The suspect's father, however, said Monday he thought his son and daughter-in-law had been happy together.
Speaking from his Sacramento home, Mathai Pallipurath, described his son as "a nice guy." He urged Joseph Pallipurath to surrender but said he hasn't had any contact with him.
Mathai Pallipurath said he had not seen his daughter-in-law since the family made a trip to India in September. She stayed behind in the southern state of Kerala when he and his son returned to the United States. He said they had sent her a plane ticket to return in early October, but they had not heard from her and he had been unaware she was back in the U.S.
The gunfire rang out Sunday just as the congregation was finishing its prayers for the dead, a staple of weekly worship service.
The parish priest, Rev. Thomas Abraham, who is not related to the victim's cousin, said he heard a loud noise and thought something had fallen in the church. He got up to go toward the noise, only to be hit with a wave of parishioners pushing him backward, saying someone was shooting inside the sanctuary.
He said the church is in shock.
"They're all scared; they're all really upset," he said. "We have to hold together in this time of adversity."
Pallipurath was last seen driving a green 2004 Jeep with California license plates and a black soft top.