Man arrested after stabbing Catholic school employee, throwing Molotov cocktail at church
An Oklahoma man has been arrested after stabbing a Catholic school employee and throwing a Molotov cocktail at a church that burst into flames and shattered windows, making it the latest incident of violence directed at churches in recent months.
On Thursday, the Tulsa, Oklahoma Police Department announced in a Facebook post that Daniel Edwards had been “arrested after stabbing a school employee with a sword and making threats at a grocery store.” The stabbing took place Wednesday at approximately 4 p.m. local time in front of Holy Family Cathedral Church in downtown Tulsa.
As witnesses were “taking photos of children who attend school there in front of the church” at the Holy Family Classical School, the man, later identified as Edwards, approached them and began “speaking erratically and making threats about the children.” After Edwards told one of the women that she “needed to run away as fast as she could,” she notified a school employee, who went after him.
“Edwards pulled out a sword and slashed the employee in one of his hands. The employee managed [to] get away from Edwards, and school administrators locked the school down and got the children to safety,” the Police Department said.
A statement from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulsa identified the employee as the church’s front desk assistant, Rod Notzon. The diocese said Notzon “suffered lacerations on his hands” and “has been treated at Saint Francis Health System,” where he is recovering in “stable condition.”
Witnesses recalled seeing Edwards “open a red cooler and pull out a jar appearing to be a Molotov cocktail.” According to the police department, “Edwards threw it against the side of the church and the jar burst into flames.” The Diocese noted that the Molotov cocktail attack resulted in “damage to some south-facing windows.”
“I am extremely grateful to our faculty, staff, parish and school administrators for their fast and prudent action to keep everyone safe,” the Rev. Gary Kastl, rector of Holy Family Cathedral and Classical School, said in a statement. “I also want to extend my gratitude to the quick response and leadership of our local law enforcement.”
A “Mass for Rod’s healing” was held Friday, “followed by a Eucharistic Procession around the property’s parameter,” added Kastl, who invited the Tulsa community to “come, pray and heal with us.”
Edwards “never approached nor made his way into the school” and fled the scene after throwing a second Molotov cocktail at the cathedral. Although law enforcement arrived after Edwards ran away, they began a citywide search to apprehend him.
About an hour after the events that unfolded at Holy Family Cathedral and Classical School, police responded to a bomb threat at a grocery store in a different part of the city. “Daniel Edwards made a threat at the store saying he had something worse than a bomb, and he was also carrying a Bible,” the police department added.
Edwards reportedly refused to follow the commands of officers who confronted him at the scene, leading one law enforcement officer to deploy his taser so he could be taken into custody. They confirmed that “Edwards was the same man from the downtown church incident” and recovered a sword in the backseat of his car after finding it in a parking lot.
The image captured in security camera footage taken outside the church shows a man with dark gray hair and a beard and mustache wearing a yellow and black shirt with blue jeans. An image of Edwards as he was being taken into custody shows a man fitting that description. The Tulsa Police Department said Edwards “will likely face charges for Assault with a Deadly weapon with Intent to do Bodily Harm, Possession of an Unregistered Destructive Device, and potentially other charges as well.”
The attack on Holy Family Cathedral is one of several attacks on churches that have taken place following Politico’s publication of a draft opinion in the United States Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which showed that a majority of justices were poised to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. The attacks continued after the Supreme Court handed down the Dobbs decision on June 24, declaring that the U.S. Constitution does not contain a right to abortion.
While attacks on Catholic churches have received renewed attention as the Dobbs decision has dominated national headlines, the advocacy group CatholicVote traces attacks on Catholic churches back to the days and months following the May 2020 death of George Floyd in police custody. The group has launched a $1 million ad campaign lamenting what they have characterized as the Biden administration’s inadequate response to the violence against Catholic churches.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: email@example.com