Dale Settle Jr. held out his Bible when armed robbers approached him and two other young people arriving for a late-night home Bible study Thursday.
“In the name of Jesus, your gun won’t fire,” Settle repeated several times.
But it did.
Now the 22-year-old Newton Falls native is dead, and police are looking for his killer.
Police were called at 10:32 p.m. Thursday to the 600 block of Hazlett Avenue NW, arriving to find Settle with a gunshot wound to the abdomen and lying on the ground outside the home, said Capt. Dave Davis, who heads the Detective Bureau.
“Dale really died a martyr. The Bible says there’s no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend. Dale loved us,” said a man who had been with him. The man asked not to be named as police continue to search for Settle’s killers.
Church members showed up quickly at Canton Aultman Hospital.
“The whole Bible study sat at the hospital all night praying,” said Settle’s father, Dale Settle Sr.
The young Jackson Township man died in surgery at 5:55 a.m. Friday, said Harry Campbell, chief investigator with the Stark County Coroner’s Office.
Settle Jr. was a native of Newton Falls, where he played every position in baseball from the ages of 7 to 18,. He graduated high school in Newton Falls.
“He was an amazing son,” said his mother, Sharon Lane of Newton Falls.
By 11 a.m. Friday, more than 70 young people had gathered at Faith Family Church, 8200 Freedom Ave. NW. Word continued to spread through Facebook and Twitter, Pastor Michael Cameneti explained.
Adam Fox, 18, and Cory Kotema, 17, were sitting in McKinley High School when Fox was alerted by a story on cantonrep.com that their friend had died. Fox sent a text message to Kotema, who was in Spanish class. Kotema said he quickly went to the school counselor’s office, saying he needed to be with his church family.
“It’s hard for us to believe that he’s dead. I mean, he’s 22 years old!” Fox said, wiping away tears.
They stood with fellow church-goers in small groups, some wiping away tears and others hugging before “Pastor Mike” prayed for God to grant comfort to Settle’s family. The pastor asked the young mourners “come out of this by serving God with more intensity,” and he prayed for the gunmen.
“We pray for the two individuals, Father God, that you have mercy on their souls,” he said.
The pastor’s wife, Barbara Cameneti, told the group when police first arrived at the scene, they found Settle praying in tongues.
“One of the police officers asked if (Dale) was speaking Spanish,” she said through tears. “He could’ve been praying for the man who shot him, for the man’s salvation.”
The man who was with him recalled prayer.
“He was praising God and praying,” he said.
Settle’s father isn’t surprised.
“He was a born-again Christian. He loved God; he loved young people,” the elder Settle said, struggling to hold back tears. “His life was all about helping other people.”