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Armed teenager, safety check disrupt Catholic mass in Louisiana

Saint Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Abbeville, Louisiana Wikimedia Commons via Creative Commons/Photo by PaulVQ

Armed teenager, safety check disrupt Catholic mass in Louisiana

Authorities arrested a 16-year-old boy on Saturday for entering St. Mary Magdalen Church in southern Louisiana with a gun. At the time of the incident, the church was conducting a First Communion service for children. No one was injured during the scare, said the Abbeville Police Department in a statement.

How did the church handle the situation? According to a statement by the church, when a suspicious person entered the church, parishioners immediately confronted and escorted him outside. The livestream of the service showed someone interrupting Father Nicholas DuPré’s prayer to whisper something to him. DuPré then asked the congregation to repeat the Hail Mary prayer with him while several members headed to the back of the church.

After several minutes of prayer, the sanctuary was filled with screams when police officers entered in bulletproof vests. The church said the officers’ work to ensure there were no additional threats understandably caused panic. Livestream footage showed mass leaders kneeling behind the altar while several altar boys darted across the stage. Congregants were asked over the public address system to move slowly and calm down, adding that a young man had been arrested. The church plans to have uniformed law enforcement at upcoming masses, the church said.

Was the boy charged? The boy was questioned in the presence of his parent and charged with terrorizing, along with two counts of possession of a firearm by a juvenile, police said.

Dig deeper: Read my report in The Sift about a gunman in a Pennsylvania church service last week.

Christina Grube

Christina Grube is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute.

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