Louisiana parishioners stop teen armed with rifle from entering first Communion Mass

incident at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Abbeville, Louisiana As parishioners and police respond to the threat of an armed intruder, clergy at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Abbeville, Louisiana take cover behind the altar on May 11, 2024. | Credit: St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Abbeville, Louisiana

Quick action by alert parishioners and local police are credited with averting a tragedy at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Abbeville, Louisiana, yesterday.

As 60 children were preparing for their first Communion, the parish located south of Lafayette, Louisiana, reported that an armed “suspicious person opened the back door.” 

“The individual was immediately confronted by parishioners, escorted outside, and the police were called,” the parish indicated in a statement

In an interview with the Acadiana Advocate, Abbeville Police Chief Mike Hardy credited parishioners for having disarmed the suspect and having him already pinned to the ground when police arrived.

A livestream video of the Mass captures the tense moments when presiding Father Nicholas DuPre was alerted to the situation.

Though the suspect was quickly neutralized, panic broke out when the suspect told police a second shooter was near the building. That is when law enforcement entered the church to make sure there was no additional danger. No other suspect was found.

The 16-year-old suspect was charged with terrorizing and two counts of possession of a firearm by a juvenile. He is being held in the Abbeville General Hospital Behavioral Unit for medical evaluation. 

Lafayette, Louisiana Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel credited the quick response of alert parishioners and the Abbeville Police Department for stopping the armed intruder. Credit: Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana
Lafayette, Louisiana Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel credited the quick response of alert parishioners and the Abbeville Police Department for stopping the armed intruder. Credit: Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana

Lafayette, Louisiana Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel said: “We are thankful to God that a tragedy was avoided.”

“Let us pray for an end to all threats of violence to innocent human life,” he added. 

The parish informed that “out of an abundance of caution, we will have uniformed law enforcement at all upcoming Masses.”

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