Diocese: 60 children were in Abbeville church when teen with gun entered

ABBEVILLE, La. (KLFY) — The pastor of St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Abbeville said there were 60 children in the church on Saturday when a teenager entered with a gun before being arrested.

In an open letter released Monday afternoon, the Rev. Louis J. Richard said the children attending their First Communion and their parents, siblings, relatives and guests, “all experienced a traumatic moment.”

“The church was full, with standing room only,” Richard said. “About midway through the mass a young man suspiciously dressed and armed approached and entered the church vestibule. Immediately upon entry, he encountered a woman parishioner, with her small children nearby, who confronted and questioned him. She noticed a handgun on his hip and denied him further entry. Having been alerted, a gentleman in attendance entered the church building from the same door and removed this young man who was then disarmed and detained. A parishioner in attendance called 911. Law enforcement responded immediately and arrested the individual.”

Richard said the suspect told police that he had come to the church to stop someone else from attacking a priest, whereupon officers entered the church, stopping Mass, and searched the building in full tactical gear using police dogs.

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“As you can imagine, this caused fear and panic for a full church,” Richard said.

Blue Rolfes, Director of Communications of the Diocese of Lafayette, said some of the children and their families first saw the suspect at the back of the church.

“He was dressed all in black, including a black hoodie pulled up over his head, and was wearing a mask, when the temperature outside at the time was in the mid 80’s,” Rolfes said.

Rolfes said Richard spoke to the children at Vermilion Catholic School Monday morning, and local counselors from the community have been on campus all day to help the children.

Read Richard’s letter here:


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