Police are investigating the stabbing of four people who were attending 11:00 a.m. Mass at St. Jude Thaddeus Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Sunday, leaving four people injured.
The Associated Press (AP) is reporting that 24 year-old Lawrence Capener is facing felony charges for attacking members of the choir and other parishioners near the end of Mass on Sunday. Witnesses said the man was seen jumping over pews in his haste to get at the choir.
“I just remember seeing him hurdle over the pews, hurdle over people and run towards us and I thought, `Oh my God, this is not good,'” said Brenda Baca King, choir pianist, to KRQE-TV.
He managed to reach flutist Gerald Madrid, who said he tried to stop Capener by placing him in a bear hug.
“I bear-hugged him. We were chest on chest. I was wrapping about to take him down to the ground, but I didn’t have his arms. I had just my arms around his chest, so his arms were free. So that’s when he started stabbing me,” Madrid told KOP-TV.
He thought that Capener was punching him and didn’t realize until afterward that he had been stabbed five times.
Three others, including choir director Adam Alvarez, were injured before an off-duty fireman and others managed to subdue him until police arrived.
Thankfully, none of the injuries were life threatening.
Rev. John C. Daniel, who was celebrating Mass at the time of the attack, told the AP that he didn’t see the attack occur because he had his back turned to the congregation at the time while he was returning the Blessed Sacrament to the tabernacle.
Father Daniel said he saw Capener in the church before, but did not recognize him as a regular parishioner.
Police do not yet know the motive for the stabbings.
Archbishop of Santa Fe Michael Sheehan released a statement expressing his sadness and concern about the attack.
“This is the first time in my 30 years serving as archbishop in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and as Bishop of Lubbock, that anything like this has occurred,” Sheehan said.
“I pray for all who have been harmed, their families, the parishioners and that nothing like this will ever happen again.”
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