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Sunday service interrupted by shooting threat

Sunday service interrupted by shooting threat

An Episcopal congregation in North Miami Beach had just finished praying for the lives lost in Orlando the previous Sunday when their service was interrupted by a man who threatened to shoot the priest and anyone who remained in the church. The man had previously warned of his plans, and police officers were already on hand.

From the Miami Herald:

Three days before his church service disruption — which ended in his arrest — police say he destroyed the church sign in the front of the monastery and the next day decapitated an 875-year-old statue.

Mansfield said Arizamendoza — who was known by staff as receiving assistance for the homeless — told the monastery manager that he’d be there Sunday. Police officers were waiting.

Arizamendoza, 33, of Maryland, was being held Monday in the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on a $75,000 bond. He faces charges including aggravated assault at a religious institution, disturbing religious assembly, two counts of criminal mischief at a place of worship and burglary of an unoccupied dwelling.

The Rev. Gregory Mansfield is the Rector of the  St Bernard de Clairvaux Episcopal Church, which meets in the Ancient Spanish Monastery. He said that Arizamendoza demanded to know who was the priest. Mansfield identified himself and tried to keep him talking until police were able to arrest him. He said that Arizamendoza threatened to shoot him and anyone who remained in the church. Around 140 people were gathered in the chapel of the Ancient Spanish Monastery at the time.

Bishop Peter Eaton, of the Diocese of Southeast Florida, told the Miami Herald that he rushed to the church as soon as he heard of the incident. He told the paper, “Anytime that there is an incident like this we are all very concerned. Churches are places where people need to be safe.”

Featured image: the sign for the St Bernard de Clairvaux Episcopal Church was vandalized in the days leading up to Sunday’s incident. Via the Miami Herald
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Tory Baucum

I'm glad to see that my old friend maintained his courage and demonstrated grace under pressure. Good job, Greg!

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David Allen

He threatened to do this and police officers were on hand. I have to wonder what was in the mind of these officers. They already had this man for threats & destruction of property, why didn't they arrest him as soon as he made his appearance? Why wait until he again showed his violent nature in a room filled with people? Things could have gone terribly and irreparably wrong!

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