.- A 24-year-old man has been arrested after allegedly stabbing several members of the choir at a Catholic church in Albuquerque, New Mexico, during Sunday Mass.
The knife-wielding man reportedly climbed over several pews and attacked the choir director, a choir member and two others after communion at the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church.
“I looked up, and I saw a young man with a very scary look in his eyes,” choir member Brenda Baca King told KOAT-TV. “Fury, anger, hatred.”
Some witnesses said the man shouted out “Fake preacher!” when he began to attack.
Gerald Madrid, a 53-year-old man who was accompanying the choir on the flute, pinned the assailant to the wall, according to media reports, which said that he and other churchgoers helped subdue the attacker until police arrived.
Madrid and three others were hospitalized for the wounds suffered in the attack. All are listed as being in stable condition. Paramedics treated several other churchgoers on the scene.
The accused assailant, Lawrence Capener, was booked on Sunday on three counts of aggravated battery. He is being held on $75,000 bail.
The priest who celebrated the Mass, Father John C. Daniel, said he had seen the man in the church previously but did not recognize him as a regular parishioner, the Associated Press reports.
The motives for the attack are not immediately known.
Fr. Daniel said he had talked to Capener’s mother and believed that he had mental health problems.
The priest said there was no connection between the choir director and the attacker.
Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe said April 28 that he was “deeply saddened” by the attack. He prayed for those who have been harmed, their families and other parishioners. He offered prayers “that nothing like this will ever happen again.”
The archbishop said the parish is a “vibrant” community with 4,000 parishioners attending Mass each Sunday.