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St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church, Louisiana
Church US pic.jpg
St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church, Louisiana
USA News

16-year-old charged with terrorising at US church communion service

by Donna Birrell

A 16-year-old has been charged with terrorising after causing panic at a church communion service in the United States.

Sixty children were preparing for their first Communion at St Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Abbeville, Louisiana when parishioners noticed an armed person had opened the back door.

In a statement, the parish said the individual was immediately confronted and disarmed by parishioners who escorted him outside and pinned him to the ground until police arrived.

Panic broke out when the suspect told police that a second shooter was near the building, however no other suspect was found.

The teenager has been charged with terrorising and two counts of possession of a firearm by a juvenile. He's being held at a behavioural unit for medical evaluation.

In a statement, the Lafayette, Louisiana bishop, J. Douglas Deshotel, credited the quick response of alert parishioners and the Abbeville Police Department for stopping the armed intruder:

“We are thankful to God that a tragedy was avoided.”

“Let us pray for an end to all threats of violence to innocent human life.” 

The service was being streamed online and shows someone interrupting the priest, Fr Nicholas DuPré, mid-prayer and whispering in his ear alerting him to what was happening.

DuPré asked the congregation to sit and join him in repeating the Hail Mary prayer several times as an armed officer entered the back of the sanctuary as the priest and deacon ducked behind the altar. Altar boys ran across the sanctuary and as panic started to take hold, a PA announcement said, “Just get a hold of your child. Go slowly. We did apprehend a young man. He’s in custody. … Calm down and just get next to your child and go slowly.”

In a statement the church said:

“While we realise 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."

It will now have uniformed police officers at all its Masses "out of an abundance of caution".







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