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Churchgoers Avert Armed Teen’s Disturbance During First Communion Service



Clear Facts

  • A potentially dangerous situation was averted at St Mary Magdalen Church in southern Louisiana when parishioners confronted and disarmed a suspicious teenager armed with a gun.
  • The incident occurred during a First Communion service for about sixty children. The teen suspect, who was swiftly apprehended by the police, faces charges of Terrorizing and two counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile.
  • Fortunately, no one was hurt in the incident, with the church later announcing that uniformed law enforcement officers would be present at future services to ensure safety.

On a day that should have been joyous and celebratory for the children of St Mary Magdalen Church in Abbeville, Louisiana, a distressing incident took place. Parishioners had to intervene when a suspicious teenager, armed with a gun, attempted to disrupt the church service where approximately sixty children were preparing for their First Holy Communion.

Chief of Police, Mike Hardy reported, “The person was confronted by parishioners and escorted outside. Upon arrival, our Officers arrested the suspect and took him into custody.” The suspect, a sixteen-year-old, now faces serious charges, including Terrorizing and two counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Juvenile.

The teen was subjected to police questioning in the presence of his parent and underwent a psychological evaluation at the Abbeville General Hospital Behavioral Unit. Though the circumstances were alarming, no one was injured in the incident, and a thorough sweep of the church premises revealed no additional threats.

The incident was captured on a livestream. Footage showed the congregation’s attention being diverted from the consecration liturgy due to sound of children’s voices and a quiet interruption of the officiating priest. The priest could be seen encouraging parishioners to resume their seats and recite Hail Marys in unison, while law enforcement officers entered the church and he took cover behind the altar.

An amplified voice reassured the congregation, “So folks, just hold onto your children, and move slowly. A young man was apprehended. He is in police custody. Stay calm, stay close to your child, and move slowly.”
Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette expressed his relief, saying, “We are thankful to God that a tragedy was avoided.”

Once the commotion subsided, the children successfully received their First Communion. The church later posted, “The joy that these kids experienced today upon receiving their First Communion is beyond words. Congratulations!”

This distressing incident highlighted the swift and effective response of both parishioners and the police. The church thanked everyone involved in a statement relayed by the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette, and affirmed that to ensure future safety, uniformed law enforcement would be guarding its masses.

Chief Hardy also expressed gratitude towards the FBI staff, deputies from the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office, and the church’s leaders and congregation for their composed and quick response. He indicated that the incident remains under investigation.


This situation follows a similar event in Pennsylvania where a suspect attempted to shoot a pastor during a sermon. The suspect, Bernard Polite, was later charged with homicide after his cousin’s body was discovered in his apartment.

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