Murder suspect was Forkland preacher

Published 9:00 am Saturday, January 23, 2010

From reading the news accounts of the shooting of Satarrick Gray at Livingston High School on Wednesday, one gets the impression that the shooter was a hateful, cold-blooded person.

These actions run contrary to those who knew suspect Telvin Gray, who was charged with his wife’s murder on Thursday.

“Generally speaking, he was a soft-spoken, kind, timid kind of person,” said Carol Branch, the pastor at New Life Church in Demopolis who knew him through her attendance at Ebeneezer Baptist Church and watching him grow up in Forkland. “These things…(from) the other day are just way, way, way out from his character — way out.”

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Gray was a preacher in Forkland, having graduated from Paramount High School in Greene County in 1995.

He spent some time preaching at Ebeneezer Baptist Church and at the First United Baptist Church on County Road 20.

“Telvin was a good kind that went through a lot of stuff,” said Branch. “He had a hard time dealing with some stuff. He would just get depressed at times, but he was a good preacher. He knew the Word.

“He would preach about salvation and faithfulness of God, and how, when difficult times come, it is the voice of God that brings us out — typical messages of hope.”

Branch said that Gray had a difficult time adjusting to his divorce from his first wife, Madeline Gray, whom he married in May 2002.

“The first marriage ended in divorce,” Branch said. “That was stressful for him at times, just not understanding how these things happen when you get God on your side.”

In April 2004, Madeline Gray issued a restraining order against him, claiming that he attempted to cause her bodily injury.

“He calls me all day every day, cursing me,” she wrote in the petition for the restraining order. “He says he’s going to get me. He talks about suicide.”

Branch said that she advised Telvin Gray to seek counseling to deal with his problems, which she believed he did.

She said that when he introduced his second wife to the congregation, she felt that he was happy in his marriage.

“He had such a big smile on his face when he brought her to Ebeneezer, and I was happy for him, too,” she said.

“Then, I didn’t see him for a while, and I heard that he had set root in Sumter County. He served as the pastor for a while at another local church in Forkland. I thought he might become the pastor there, but he would say, ‘I’m just not ready for this,’ because being a pastor, you have to deal with tough stuff.

“He was just a person who was good, and I can’t imagine what would have snapped him, what could have happened. When difficult times would come, he would withdraw before he hurt somebody, so this is so far away from what he is accustomed to.”

Telvin Gray is being held in Sumter County Jail on $75,000 bond.