A pastor who was stabbed along with one of his church members during a Bible study has survived after an off-duty police officer stepped in to apprehend the suspect.
The horrific attack occurred at Grace Covenant Church in Chantilly in the US state of Virginia at the weekend, when police say 32-year-old Chance Harrison stabbed the leader "without provocation".
The suspect made his way to a meeting room where a Bible study was being held, before stabbing Pastor Sean Clemons. Realising the severity of the situation, Fairfax County Police Chief Ed Roessle, himself a member of the church, jumped in to help, alongside another congregant. The pair managed to subdue to man, sustaining minor injuries in the process.
"He did his part in the moment," a witness said of Roessler’s actions. "Sometimes we can’t prevent injury. I know people were injured but it could have been worse, I do believe. I think it could have been a lot worse. There are a lot of emotions but I do have faith that everything is going to be okay."
Fairfax County Police Department said the suspect was then "taken into custody without further incident" and that he was "not injured".
In a statement on the incident, Brett Fuller of Grace Covenant Church said: "Today, in a routine church educational setting, one of our pastors was assaulted by an attendee.
"Two church members came to the pastor’s aid and valiantly risked their own lives to defend him. In the process, one of our members was injured. The assailant was taken into captivity at the scene.
"We are in prayer for all the injured. We are grateful for the courage exhibited that prevented worse from happening."
Fuller noted that this was one of the first times Grace Covenant had opened up its doors following the Covid-19 lockdown. “We are still in shock, and our congregation is going through the process of healing,” he added.
Harrison is being held without bond and is charged with two counts of aggravated malicious wounding, one count of felony assault on a police officer, and one count of misdemeanour assault.
Following the incident, two people were treated for non-life-threatening injuries at Reston Hospital.