OAKLAND -- While a pastor sermonized about the meaning of Christmas on Monday night, his parishioners dove to the floor as a hail of bullets was fired outside the East Oakland church.

The Christmas Eve gunfire wounded a 17-year-old male outside the church. Inside, a 38-year-old woman was struck by a stray bullet while shielding her 7-year-old twins.

Gunfire elsewhere in Oakland killed a man on Christmas Day at 24th and Chestnut streets, the city's 127th homicide of the year.

Both victims in the church shooting sustained injuries that were not life-threatening, police said.

The woman was listed in stable condition Tuesday at Highland Hospital with a gunshot wound just under her left armpit, police said.

The gunfire erupted at 9:03 p.m. outside Centro Evangelistico Bethel, a Spanish-speaking church on MacArthur Boulevard, near 82nd Avenue.

Police said the apparent target was the 17-year-old male who had left a liquor store that shares a parking lot with the church. However, several bullets struck the church, and two penetrated the wall, police said.

"When I saw the bullets crossing the wall and people jumping to the ground, I was so scared," Pastor Edvin Salguero said.

As Salguero helped shepherd the 100 or so parishioners, including several crying children, into a backroom, he was summoned to the bathroom, where the female victim had fled.

"I just checked her body," he said. "I saw the little hole. I never thought something like that could happen."


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Police had limited details about the shooting Tuesday.

Salguero said the parishioner, an Oakland resident and native of Guatemala, draped herself over her two children, who were seated next to her.

It was the church's first major gunfire incident since it opened in the high-crime location nearly seven years ago, Salguero said.

Monday's service didn't resume after the shooting, but the church intends to remain at its home because it lacks the funds to move, Salguero said.

"We have to stay," he said. "It's very hard to get another place."

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.