Parishioners pin down gunman who busted into church where scores of kids were receiving First Communion

Scores of children gathered at a Louisiana church over the weekend to receive their First Communion. Unbeknownst to the innocents and their parents, a hooded teen dressed all in black was on his way in, armed with a rifle. A handful of parishioners were, however, able to deliver the children inside from the apparent evil without.

The Abbeville Police Department
indicated it received a call of a suspicious person with a gun at St. Mary Magdalen Church around 10:35 a.m. on Saturday. The 16-year-old suspect attempted to steal into the Catholic church through the rear entrance.

Police and the church
confirmed that upon opening the door, the suspect was “immediately confronted by parishioners, escorted outside, and the police were called.”

When police arrived on the scene less than a minute later, they found the suspect disarmed and pinned to the ground by multiple parishioners,
reported the Arcadiana Advocate.

After the suspect told them there was a second shooter near the building, APD officers and deputies from the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office swept the area for additional threats and evacuated the church.

Footage excerpted from a livestream of the Mass shows an individual approach the sanctuary and inform the priest, Rev. Nicholas DuPré, of the situation.

Keeping his cool, Fr. DuPré instructs his parish, “I’d like everybody to be seated for just a moment,” then a moment later invites everybody to join him in praying the Hail Mary.

While many can be heard joining in prayer, some parishioners leap to their feet with worry while others screamed. Parents can be seen ferrying their children away to safety while a law enforcement officer in a bulletproof vest paces near the altar.

An official announces over the PA system amidst the frenzy, “So guys, just get a hold of your child. Go slowly. We did apprehend a young man. He is in custody. He is in the policy custody. Calm down and just get next to your child.”

The church acknowledged that the evacuation “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 in a statement. “We invite First Communicants to receive First Holy Communion at whichever Mass they choose to attend this weekend. We are grateful for all the prayers for our St. Mary Magdalen community.”

The church further indicated that uniformed police officers will be present at all upcoming Masses.

The APD indicated that the suspect was taken to Abbeville General Hospital’s behavioral unit for a medical evaluation. He was subsequently charged with terrorizing and two counts of possession of a firearm by a juvenile.

Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel of the Diocese of Lafayette commended those responsible for preventing a possible massacre.

“We are thankful to God that a tragedy was avoided at the First Communion mass for the children of St. Mary Magdalen in Abbeville,” the bishop
said in a statement. “The quick response of the Abbeville PD and alert parishioners is a great example of caring for the most vulnerable in our community. Let us pray for an end to all threats of violence to innocent human life.”

The incident took place one week after a
gunman took aim at pastor in a Pennsylvania church; one month after an Islamic terrorist savagely stabbed an Assyrian bishop in an Australian church; and several months after a deranged anti-Semite from El Salvador shot up Joel Osteen’s Houston-area megachurch.

American churches have been a popular target for radicals of various stripes in recent years.

A
recent report from the Family Research Council indicated there had been at least 915 acts of hostility against American churches between 2018 and 2023. The attacks ranged from vandalism and arson to bomb threats.

St. Mary Magdalen Church
shared a prayer to Facebook the day after the incident: “Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts, heal your people’s wounds and transform brokenness into wholeness. Grant us courage and wisdom, humility and grace, to act with justice. Breathe wisdom into our prayers. Grant that all harmed by the threat of violence may find peace in justice. We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.”

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