Police identify suspect who stabbed Virginia pastor, injured others during Bible study

Grace Covenant Church in Chantilly, Virginia, July 2020
Grace Covenant Church in Chantilly, Virginia, July 2020 | Screenshot: ABC News

Police in Virginia’s Fairfax County identified the suspect who stabbed two persons, including a church pastor while he was leading a Bible study. The county police chief, who was attending the church event, took down the suspect.

Chance Harrison, 32, of South Riding was arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated malicious wounding, one count of felony assault on a police officer and one count of misdemeanor assault after stabbing Associate Pastor Sean Clemons and another man who intervened at Grace Covenant Church in Chantilly. Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler was also injured while subduing the suspect.

Before his sermon on Sunday, Senior Pastor Brett Fuller, who also serves as a chaplain to Washington, D.C.’s NFL franchise, called it a "horrific event" and said he was "grateful for the courage exhibited that prevented worse from happening."

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“Two church members came to the pastor’s aid and valiantly risked their own lives to defend him. In the process, one of our members was injured," he said.

On Saturday, Grace Covenant was holding what Fuller described as a routine class for people "who want to become members and people who want to strengthen their faith." 

Harrison allegedly pulled his SUV over the sidewalk and right up to the door of the church, walked into the room where the Bible study was taking place and approached the pastor with a knife in his hand.

The stabbing took place when Pastor Clemons was ending the class and the suspect was heard saying things that were “a little incoherent,” said Fuller, who was not at the class but had spoken to witnesses.

Clemons “was struck in the chest.”

Witnesses told Fuller that Harrison appeared to be in an altered mental state when he entered the Bible study room.

A man in the class, whom the pastor described as "valiant" but did not name for privacy reasons, intervened and attacked the suspect and was also stabbed. The police chief, who happened to be in the class, "neutralized the threat," using “no more force than was necessary,” and helped restrain the suspect before police arrived.

A motive has not yet been identified.

The injured were being treated at Reston Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. 

“We are in prayer for all the injured,” Fuller said. “We want to thank the broader community for their outpouring of concern and support in this time.”

This was the second time the church had opened for worship since the COVID-19 restrictions in March.

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