Tuesday 14 May 2024

Teen Gunman Stopped After Entering Louisiana Catholic Church During Mass

 A 16-year-old male gunman was stopped by parishioners and arrested by police officers after he entered a Louisiana Catholic church during Mass on Saturday. The incident occurred during a Mass celebrating a group of children’s first holy communion at St. Mary Magdalen church in Abbeville in southern Louisiana.

No one was injured during the incident.

“This morning, our First Communion ceremony was interrupted when a suspicious person opened the back door,” St. Mary Magdalen church said in a statement, KGET reported. “The individual was immediately confronted by parishioners, escorted outside and the police were called.”

Officers with the Abbeville Police Department apprehended and arrested the teen and then checked inside the church to make sure there was no additional danger.

“This understandably caused panic. While we realize this was a frightening experience for those in attendance, we are incredibly grateful to both parishioners and police officers for acting quickly to ensure the safety of all,” the church said.

Multiple law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, are involved in the investigation.

The suspect was questioned at a police station with a parent present and then taken to a hospital behavioral unit to be medically evaluated, the Abbeville Police Department said.

The teen has been charged with “terrorizing” as well as with two counts of possession of a firearm by a juvenile, police said.

The terrifying incident was captured on a church camera that was streaming the Mass online. A man ascends the altar and whispers to the priest, who then asks the parishioners to sit down and join him in prayer and begins reciting Hail Marys. Several men walk around near the front pews, frequently looking towards the back of the church.

Moments later, parishioners can be seen panicking, screaming, and grabbing their small children as police enter the church. The priest continued to pray but was drowned out by the crowd. He and several priests duck behind the altar during the chaos, and altar boys can be seen running across the altar.

“So guys, just get ahold of your child. Go slowly. We did apprehend a young man. He is in custody. He is in the police’s custody. Calm down and just get next to your child and go slowly,” a man can be heard telling the crowd on a microphone.

The church said it will have law enforcement at all upcoming Masses as a precaution.

St. Mary Magdelen church is part of Vermilion Parish and is located about 21 miles southwest of Lafayette.

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