Heart-stopping moment churchgoers stop 16-year-old boy armed with gun during children’s first communion

As 60 children were set to make their first communion, the ceremony was interrupted by a gun-wielding teen who entered the back door of a church in Louisiana

Amelia Neath
Monday 13 May 2024 15:11
Clergymen at the St Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Louisiana duck for cover behind the altar as a 16-year-old boy is arrested after turning up to the church with a gun
Clergymen at the St Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Louisiana duck for cover behind the altar as a 16-year-old boy is arrested after turning up to the church with a gun (St Mary Magdalen Catholic Church)

Clergymen ducked for cover, and churchgoers scrambled out of their seats after a 16-year-old armed with a gun entered a Louisana church during a first communion service over the weekend. However, quick-thinking parishioners were able to confront the teen and get him out of the building.

The unnamed male teen was arrested after the Abbeville Police Department received a call of a “suspicious person” with a gun lingering at the St Mary Magdalen Church at around 10.30am on Saturday, police said.

He has been arrested on charges of terrorising and two counts of possession of a firearm by a juvenile.

The gun-wielding teen was confronted by parishioners after he opened the back door of the church, interrupting a first communion ceremony, before being escorted outside, where police put him in custody, the church said in a statement.

Around 60 children were at the church during that time, set to make their first communion at the church service, according to KADN.

“This understandably caused panic. While we realise this was a frightening experience for those in attendance, we are incredibly grateful to both parishioners and police officers for acting quickly to ensure the safety of all,” the church added.

During a livestream video of the church service, associate pastor Father Nicholas DuPré was leading Mass when the crowd of people in attendance, mostly off camera, could be heard scuffling around, screaming and shouting as the pastor was in the middle of prayer.

Churchgoers at the very front can be seen standing up and looking towards the back of the church while Father DuPré and another clergyman beside him duck behind the altar as the chaotic noise from the crowd continues.

The church was in the middle of a first communion service for children in the community when they were interrupted (St Mary Magdalen Catholic Church)

A police officer appears behind the clergymen, and a few people appearing to be boys dressed in choir attire run from one end to another behind the altar.

Churchgoers can be seen picking up their children and moving frantically about before a voice can be heard saying across the church, “Just get ahold of your child; go slowly”.

The teenager who entered the church, along with those parishioners who confronted and escorted the teen were not caught on the livestream.

“We did apprehend a young man, he is in custody, he is in the police custody, calm down and just get next to your child and go slowly.”

Liz Touchet, who was in attendance at the Mass, told KADN that the “first communion was proceeding as normal and then police came in with their guns drawn”.

“People started running to get their kids and we were told to get down,” she added.

After the arrest, officers from Abbeville and the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office made a sweep through the church to make sure there were no additional threats and to confirm that no one was injured, the police said.

The teen was then questioned by police with a parent present before being transported to the Abbeville General Hospital Behavioural Medicine Center to be medically assessed, they added.

People started to scatter and pick up their children after the teenager was detained (St Mary Magdalen Catholic Church)

The church also added in their statement that out of an abundance of caution, in all upcoming Masses, the church has organised for uniformed law enforcement to be present.

All first communicants could also receive their first holy communion at whichever Mass they chose throughout the weekend.

The following day, the church posted pictures on their Facebook of children returning to their church to receive their first communion.

Chief Mike Hardy from the Abbeville Police Department is handling the investigation with the cooperation of the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office and assistance from the FBI.

The Independent has contacted the Abbeville Police Department for further information.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in