A man in Texas has been arrested on suspicion of shooting two family members because he believed they were performing witchcraft against him.
Police said that Wilman Sandoval, 23, had attacked his 17-year-old brother and the brother's 26-year-old fiancee with a pistol in the family's home in Houston on Sunday afternoon.
Both victims suffered multiple gunshot wounds and were rushed to hospital, with the man in "serious condition" and the woman in "very critical condition".
Both victims are now in “fair condition” and expected to survive, reported FOX26.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said that Mr Sandoval's brother had been shot while attempting to protect his fiancee from the "senseless" violence.
"We're told that a possible motive was that the alleged shooter may have suspected that family members were conducting some type of witchcraft on him and he was upset about it," Mr Gonzalez told reporters on Sunday evening.
"Apparently this caught everyone by surprise because all the family members were here in the apartment when this erupted this afternoon."
@HCSOTexas units responded to a shooting at an apt complex, 7610 Fallbrook. An adult male allegedly shot two adult family members. Both wounded persons have been transported in critical condition. The alleged shooter is detained. #HouNews pic.twitter.com/KWpXWEGBH8
— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) January 14, 2024
Investigators are now interviewing other people in the apartment complex to learn more about the shooting and what led to it.
Mr Gonzalez added that he was not sure whether Mr Sandoval has any criminal history or history of mental health problems.
Mr Sandoval was charged with three counts of aggravated assault.
About one in five Americans believe in "spells or witchcraft", according to an Ipsos poll in 2021. Some conservative Christian groups warn against the evils of practising magic, while neo-pagan communities have embraced the idea.
While the active persecution of supposed witches has largely faded in the US, it is still prevalent in Africa, southeast Asia, and other parts of the world.