DETROIT (AP) – For members of Michigan’s Albanian community, the fatal shooting of a man as he attended church in Rochester Hills touched a nerve, brought back memories better off forgotten, believed to have been left back home.
“It was a shock to all of us,” said Luigi Gjokaj, a 42-year-old resident of Macomb County who was seated a few rows up from the victim, Gjek Sufaj, when a man, harboring a years-old grudge, opened fire in St. Paul’s Albanian Catholic Church just as the priest was preparing to distribute communion during the Sunday Mass.
“We were supposed to leave these feuds behind. We left them in Albania a long time ago,” said Gjokaj. Michigan is home to the second-largest Albanian community in the United States, according to the latest Census figures.
Prosecutor David Gorcyca said a preliminary investigation revealed that a female member of one family had been raped by a male from the other, triggering a spiral of retaliation. Sunday’s homicide was the third involving the two feuding families since the rape occurred, he said. The rapist is in jail but details of the other homicides were not available.