A 25-year-old man is in critical condition after attempting to take his own life inside a church. Vincent Veloz shot himself following a standoff with police at Greenville Baptist Church in the US state of Ohio.
According to reports, Veloz was in a state of mental distress and went to the church to seek help. However, after meeting with the pastor there, things began to take a turn for the worse.
“The church door’s always open to folks. Whoever needs to speak, needs a friend, needs a shoulder – we’re there and available,” Pastor Tim Pol told WHIO TV. “He came to speak with me and the further we talked, the further I realized where the conversation was going and it wasn’t a good thing.”
At one point, Veloz got up from the conversation and headed to his car, where he retrieved an AR-15 firearm. Realising the severity of the situation, Pastor Tim desperately ushered those who were attending a Bible at the church to safety.
"I was already trying to call the police at that point, I was out here on the steps here but when I saw that, I went back inside and got all the folks that were in here downstairs to barricade themselves and all that -- at the same time speak with the police and try to work with him,” he explained.
Police arrived quickly and entered into a dialogue with Veloz. About three hours later, despite the police and the pastor's best efforts to change his mind, Veloz shot himself.
“He was at that juncture where he just didn’t want to press forward and I tried to persuade him, do everything I can to change his mind," Pol said.
Veloz was flown to a local hospital, where he is in critical condition. The police have said that he is wanted for aggravated burglary. A petition has been started asking police to drop the charges against Veloz.
"He went to his church with his gun in his hand crying and asking forgiveness, and attempted suicide," it reads.
"Anyone who knows Vincent knows he would NEVER hurt anyone. He was only a threat to himself. He was so deeply depressed. There were 4-5 other people at the church and once he was made aware there were other people in the building, he asked they safely be escorted out. Because it was NEVER his intent to harm anyone besides his own self.
"He has no criminal history and the Darke County Sheriff's Office in Greenville, Ohio is trying to charge him with a level 1 felony! Can you believe that? Instead of getting him psychological help they are going to charge him with a first degree felony! How sickening! And with that being said I encourage you to sign this petition and help Vincent get the proper help he needs. He needs therapy, not a different death sentence behind bars. He loves his daughter and his family and just needs light and happiness."
The petition has just over 500 signatories at the time of writing.
A GoFundMe page has also been set up to help with medical costs.
On the page, Veloz's family revealed that his older brother was lost to suicide two years ago.
"This is my younger brother and he has a mental illness," the page reads, alongside a picture of Veloz with his young child. "2 days ago he tried to take his life in a church and is fighting for his life. The Darke County sheriffs office has charged Vincent with a F1 aggravated burglary. I want to raise enough money to get Vincent the help he really needs and to get him an attorney to get this felony dropped.
"If you know Vincent then you know he's a good kid. He just had a daughter and she turned 1. He's a great dad and an unbelievable human. His heart is bigger than anyones."
So far, just over $1,300 has been raised.
“We’re still trying to process it all. It’s an unfortunate thing," pastor Pol added. "We’ve been praying for the folks involved, we’ve been praying for the families. God’s going to help us through it. The Lord’s going to help us through it. And we’ll take it one day at a time."
On Vincent's Facebook page, a Bible verse is clearly visible at the top. It is taken from John 13:7, reading "Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."