Police spokesman Robert Gibbs says Lawrence Capener jumped over several pews at St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church around noon Sunday and walked up to the choir area where he began his attack. The injuries were not grievous; however the injured, were shifted to the nearest hospital for immediate treatment.
Witnesses at the 11 a.m. mass at St. Jude Thaddeus Church said the choir had begun their closing hymns when a man jumped over several pews, shouting “Fake preacher!” ABC News’ Albuquerque affiliate KOAT reported. An off-duty police officer and others at the church subdued Capener and held him down until police arrived.
Some of those who were stabbed were members of the choir.
He said the attacker, who police have not identified, was a man in his early 20s. It was not believed he was a parishioner of the church, police said.
Sheehan said it was the first time in his 30 year career he had experienced “anything like this.”
Reyes Stinson, who was also standing in one of those rows as reported by the LA Times said, ”While that was going on, people were just panicking. It was scary, you wouldn’t think something like that would happen in church.”
Gibbs says Capener is now being interviewed by police and is expected to face felony charges.
It’s not yet known whether Capener has an attorney. Gibbs says investigators don’t yet know the motive for the stabbings, whether Capener had ties to the victims or whether he regularly attended the church. The stabbings occurred as the choir had just begun its closing hymns.
The attack took place during the song and the paronishers who were present there got shocked when they noticed the attack. One of the paronishers who do not want to be named suspected that the choir’s lead singer could have been the main target of the suspect.
Archbishop of Santa Fe Michael Sheehan released a statement saying he was saddened by the attack. “I pray for all who have been harmed, their families, the parishioners and that nothing like this will ever happen again,” he said.
Sheehan said an average of 4,000 parishioners attend Sunday services at the church.
The church didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment on Sunday afternoon.
The police said, “It has been determined that he is not a parishioner.” The police officials have also confirmed that the suspect is under their custody but they haven’t yet released his identity.