Churchgoers disarm suspect wielding rifle at kids’ first communion Mass

St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Abbeville, Louisiana
St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Abbeville, Louisiana | Screenshot/YouTube

In a swift response hailed as heroic, parishioners at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Abbeville, Louisiana, disarmed a teenager armed with a rifle, averting a potential tragedy during a First Communion Mass for 60 children.

The incident, which took place on Saturday, saw the community and local law enforcement acting quickly to ensure the safety of attendees, Catholic News Agency reported.

The suspect, a 16-year-old dressed in black, opened the back door of the church, interrupting the service, CAN said, adding that parishioners immediately confronted and escorted him outside before the police arrived, who subsequently detained him.

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

The action likely prevented harm to the children and other attendees.

The entire episode was captured during a livestream of the Mass. Around 48 minutes into the service, an individual approached Fr. Nicholas DuPre, the associate pastor presiding over the Mass, and whispered in his ear. Following this, DuPre instructed the congregation to sit and began praying the Hail Mary. Shortly after, law enforcement officers entered the church to conduct a sweep for additional threats, which the suspect had alluded to by claiming another shooter was nearby. However, no other suspects were found.

Reports from Fox8 described the chaos during the incident, noting that the suspect was stopped by parishioners before he could walk further into the church. The action took place around 10:35 a.m., during which parishioners and the clergy crouched behind the altar as police swept the building. An officer reassured the congregation, saying the suspect was in custody and urged them to remain calm.

Chief Mike Hardy of the Abbeville Police Department praised the parishioners’ bravery in swiftly dealing with the situation, according to OSV News.

The teen was subsequently charged with terrorizing and two counts of possession of a firearm by a juvenile and is being held in the Abbeville General Hospital Behavioral Unit for evaluation.

Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel of Lafayette expressed his gratitude for the parishioners’ and police officers' actions. “We are thankful to God that a tragedy was avoided,” he was quoted as saying. “Let us pray for an end to all threats of violence to innocent human life.”

In response to the event, the parish has announced that uniformed law enforcement will be present at all upcoming Masses as a precautionary measure. The community has been invited to gather for the next scheduled services.

The incident will be further investigated by the Abbeville Police, Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office and the FBI.

Fr. DuPre wrote on social media, “I’m going back to the safest place on earth, next to His Holy Cross and His Mother,” inviting parishioners to join upcoming services and not yield to fear.

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More Articles