Police identified a suspect Thursday in the killing of a respected priest who was found dead in a church rectory in California on New Year’s Day.
Eureka police have issued an arrest warrant for Gary Lee Bullock, 43, in the bludgeoning death of Rev. Eric Freed, according to a statement.
Officials are still investigating a motive in the killing, but Bullock had been in and out of police custody in the hours leading up to Freed’s death, for intoxication and erratic behanvior.
“The reverend was a victim of a violent crime,” Eureka police Chief Andrew Mills said. “We’re not sure on the motive but don’t believe it was a robbery at this point.”
Freed had taught classes on religion at Humboldt State University since 2007, including “Introduction to Christianity” and a class on Japanese calligraphy. Humboldt State is a small university of 8,000 students near Redwood National Park, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.
Freed grew up in Southern California and graduated from Loyola Marymount University. He completed his graduate studies in linguistics while in Italy, where he also learned how to speak Italian.
Freed also worked on a book related to the bombing of Hiroshima, helping a survivor translate haikus about the experience and providing commentary. When the book was published a few years ago, Humboldt State held a conference on genocide and violence.
Humboldt is a diverse community known for dairy farming, fishing, a declining logging industry and marijuana and methamphetamine production.
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