One man is dead and his pastor is now battling for his life in the hospital after a member of the church in Corpus Christi, Texas, went on a wild stabbing spree during a mid-week worship service. Two others were wounded Wednesday.
Police have not yet established a motive for the attack but Nueces County jail officials told KRISTV that the suspect, Marco Moreno, 28, was booked and charged with one count of murder and three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He remains in custody in lieu of bail set at $1.45 million.
Corpus Christi Police said they were called to a residence in the 1200 block of Cambridge Drive at about 7:00 p.m. Wednesday for reports of a stabbing. Online records show a church known as "Kingdom Acts Ministries International" with the same address.
When the Officers arrived they were directed inside the house where they found four people suffering from stab wounds. Witnesses identified Moreno, a member of their congregation who was still inside the house, as the attacker. They reported that as many as 20 people were at the house for a worship service when Moreno stabbed the four people.
Frank Castillo, a 61-year-old member of the church, reportedly died inside the church during the attack.
Church members could not provide a motive for Moreno's actions.
Corpus Christi police Lt. Chris Hooper told the Associated Press that they suspect that mental illness could have been a factor in the attack.
"The officers at the scene suspect there is a mental health issue with the offender," Hooper said, noting that Moreno has an "alcohol- and drug-related history" with police.
He said a band member was stabbed in the neck and the pastor, identified as 54-year-old Janson Abraham, was stabbed in his chest. Both men are battling life-threatening injuries. The other two male victims suffered puncture wounds — one to his hand and the other to his arm — while trying to get the suspect away from the pastor, AP reported.
On its Facebook page, the church is described as an "international and non-denominational organization that is dedicated to reach the nations with true love, pure Gospel-the Word of God-and service to Humanity."
"We dedicate ourselves to teach the Word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit and with a lifestyle of worship. Kingdom Acts focuses on reaching people through the gospel and gradually bringing them to the redeeming knowledge of Jesus Christ," the church notes.
Church member Elena Flores, who said she and her husband arrived late for the service on Wednesday, told KRISTV that she was shocked by what happened.
"I never thought this would happen," she said. "I never thought I would be a witness to this or my husband. We arrived late so I was thinking that could have been my husband because it seems like he was going after the guys, the men."
Church members say the pastor's children witnessed the attack. Flores also noted that Moreno had been attending services at the church for quite some time.