VIDEO: Disruption at Abbeville church ends with teenager in custody

ABBEVILLE, La. (KLFY) – Mass service was interrupted at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Abbeville Saturday while a teenager was taken into custody for brandishing a gun during the service, authorities said.

According to Abbeville Police, officers received a call about a suspicious person with a gun at St. Mary Magdalen Church just after 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The subject was confronted by parishioners and escorted outside. When officers arrived, the subject was arrested and taken into custody.

Abbeville Police and the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s Office swept the church for any additional threats and confirm that no one was injured.

The suspect, a 16-year-old male, was interviewed by officers with a guardian present after being taken to the Abbeville Police Department. After the interview, the juvenile was taken to a hospital to be evaluated.

The juvenile was charged with terrorizing and two counts of possession of a firearm by a juvenile.

Video from the church’s website livestream shows priests ducking behind the table around one minute into the video. You can also hear the congregation being told to “just get a hold of your child and go slowly. We did apprehend a young man. He is in custody. He is in the police custody.”

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Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel released a statement about the incident.

“We are thankful to God that a tragedy was avoided at the First Communion Mass for the children of St. Mary Magdalen in Abbeville,” Deshotel said. “The quick response of the Abbeville Police Department and alert parishioners is a great example of caring for the most vulnerable in our community. Let us pray for an end to all threats of violence to innocent human life.”

In addition to the statement, the Bishop also sent a message to the parishioners of St. Mary Magdalen Church.

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“This morning, our First Communion ceremony was interrupted when a suspicious person opened the back door. The individual was immediately confronted by parishioners, escorted outside and the police were called. The individual was quickly apprehended by Abbeville Police Department and is in their custody. Once apprehended, law enforcement entered the church to make sure there was no additional danger. This understandably caused panic. While we realize this was a frightening experience for those in attendance, we are incredibly grateful to both parishioners and police officers for acting quickly to ensure the safety of all. Chief Mike Hardy is handling the investigation with cooperation of the Vermilion Parish Sheriff’s office and assistance from the FBI. Out of an abundance of caution, we will have uniformed law enforcement at all upcoming Masses. We invite First Communicants to receive First Holy Communion at whichever Mass they choose to attend this weekend. We are grateful for all the prayers for our St. Mary Magdalen community.”

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