On December 30, 2018, an observant witness reported seeing a suspicious man toting a gun in the town of Seguin, Texas. The frightening observance occurred around 7:00 a.m. when many believers in the Lone Star state were readying themselves to go to church for the last time in 2018.
Thankfully, an off-duty police officer arrived to the location quickly. In a press release, Seguin Police spokeswoman Tanya Brown revealed the cop “observed an oddly dressed male wearing tactical style clothing, a surgical face shield, carrying a loaded firearm and extra ammunition.”
Police soon made contact with the suspect, who was subsequently identified as Tony Albert, a 33-year-old. Albert allegedly informed officers he had been on his way to a church to “fulfill a prophecy.” After being apprehended, Albert was taken to the Guadalupe County Jail for felony possession of a firearm and possession of marijuana. He was booked on a $100,000 bond. The would-be attacker was arrested a mere few hundred feet away from The Door Christian Fellowship. Albert was taken into custody 10 minutes before the worship service at the church was set to start.
During an interview with KTRK-TV, Pastor Jason Garcia said, “Every one of us has sin in our life; every one of us has struggles. And it just takes one bad day to push somebody over the edge, and whatever that guy was going through, I feel bad for him. I hope he gets the help that he needs.” Regarding the initial person who spotted Albert, Brown remarked that officers are “extremely grateful to the citizen who called police.” She went on to say, “if this subject was not stopped and apprehended, the results could have ended differently.”
KTRK-TV reported that Albert possesses an extensive criminal history according to court documents. In Harris County alone, he’s been arrested at least a half dozen times on an assortment of charges since 2009. In 2017, Albert was apprehended and charged with assaulting a family member. The detained suspect wrote in a court filing that he is affiliated with Messianic Judaism. According to KTRK-TV, Messianic Judaism “is a modern religious movement that combines Christianity with elements of Judaism.” Albert also maintained he is associated with the First Church of Cannabis, a religious group that insists marijuana is a healing plant.
Thankfully, this disturbed individual was unable to carry out a heinous, senseless act of violence. Unfortunately, Texas is no stranger to church mass shootings. In November of 2017, a 26-year-old shooter entered the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The assassin mercilessly killed 26 worshipers while injuring multiple others. Twenty-three of the dead were found inside the place of worship. Two additional people were discovered deceased outside of the building while another person died on the way to the hospital. The innocent victims were between five and 72-years old. One of the slain was the pastor’s 14-year-old daughter. At the time of the shooting, the pastor was away in Oklahoma. After being shot twice by a civilian outside of the church, the killer drove away in his vehicle. He crashed his car during a high-speed chase and was found dead with numerous gunshot wounds, including a self-inflicted one to the head.
More recently, in October of 2018, a 46-year-old gunman killed eleven and injured another six people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Four of the injured were police officers. The deranged man screamed anti-Semitic slurs as he carried out his hate filled plan. A bris, a ceremony to commemorate a baby’s birth was one of the events taking place at the synagogue on this infamous Saturday. Thankfully, no kids were among the casualties. The gunman was arrested and charged by federal officials with 29 criminal counts including a hate crime. He also faces state charges including 13 counts of ethnic intimidation, six counts of aggravated assault, and 11 counts of criminal homicide.
Due to the seeming increase in violent acts occurring at places of worship, some churches are taking drastic actions. Like numerous other locations across the country, the Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia now employs armed security personnel. Concerning the current environment, the pastor of Star of the Sea Catholic Church, Father Steve DeLeon, said, “It’s sad. It’s supposed to be a place of worship where everybody should feel safe but I think we are living in different times.”
~ 1776 Christian