Action News learns more about suspect in priest murder - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Action News learns more about suspect in priest murder

CLEVELAND – Tom Meyer, The Investigator, uncovered some surprising information about the church intern accused of gunning down a popular Slavic Village priest.

Most parishioners at St. Stanislaus Church in Cleveland described Daniel Montgomery as quiet.

"I don't think he was aloof, he just kept to himself," church worker Stan Witczak said.

Montgomery, 37, was anything but quiet over the weekend, consoling parishioners and speaking with the media after he allegedly set fire to the church rectory to cover up the murder he allegedly had just committed.

"I saw the fire," Montgomery (pictured, above) told Action News on Saturday. "I tried to put it out and I called 911 and, unfortunately, it was too late."

Montgomery's mother told The Investigator that her son must have snapped. She said that being rejected by the church would have been enough to push him over the edge.

The church's associate pastor got to know Montgomery in the five months that he was there. Michael Surufka said that Montgomery was aloof and didn't interact well with other parishioners.

The murder suspect came to northeast Ohio from a middle- to upper-middle-class community near Philadelphia. His mother told The Investigator that he was a brilliant student, earning high honors at the University of Dayton and a Master's in social work at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

He went to work for the Catholic Church as a social worker up until he was 30, when he decided that he wanted to become a Franciscan brother.

"Things didn't work out," Surufka said. "He was in the process of being dismissed."

While Montgomery is being held for gunning down the Rev. William Gulas, his mother described him as a pacifist, who didn't know how to use a gun. She said all that he wanted to do is help people, and added that he began doing community service work as a teen-ager, while protesting nuclear weapons and fighting for the rights of the poor and disadvantaged.

Montgomery's mother also said that her son was just fine at Thanksgiving, but was fairly incoherent when he called her on Saturday -- the day of the murder and subsequent fire.

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