It happened toward the end of the sermon during the morning service at Sibley Missionary Baptist Church, according to church member and off-duty Minden police officer Jared McIver. What stood out immediately, McIver says, is that the man came in through the front door and slowly made his way down the aisle all the way to a front row seat.
“That is very odd in itself because most everyone that is late sits towards the rear of the building as to not disturb the rest of the program,” McIver recounted in a Facebook post early Sunday afternoon. “The pastor was preaching and the service was almost over. The man looked straight ahead, then downwards, and then started nervously fumbling with his hands. No one had ever seen this man and it was apparent very quickly that folks in the Congregation were on edge.”
On its own, that behavior might have been nothing more than a man “under conviction.” But what happened next prompted McIver to share it as an example of why it is so important for every church to have a security plan.
McIver, a 35-year member of Sibley MBC, says several men who are authorized to concealed carry inside the church began “signaling each other to start strategically, quietly and methodically position ourselves in a manner as to not draw any attention to the man.”
“As the invitation was given the man went to the front alter and began praying and holding his hands up in the air. Again no judgment here because it is a common thing to see folks worshipping God, praying, and holding their hands up. After the invitation was given the man started praying out loud. The things he was saying were in a very mad aggravated yelling voice. Growling with his words as if angry. The church service was now over and the man is still kneeling there. Everyone starts quickly nervously making their way out of the building and the men of the church are listening and monitoring what is transpiring. This man starts angrily saying things such as, ‘We need to kill off all of these so-called Christians and kill everything and crush them.'”
It was then that McIver called the sheriff’s office, which responded within minutes. Deputies slipped into the sanctuary and took the man into custody after seeing and hearing his behavior for themselves.
McIver says the way the man responded to deputies who asked him why he said what he said was just as disturbing as his violent prayers.
“He said, ‘Well, it’s not illegal to pray out loud,'” McIver recalled, noting that the man did not appear to be concerned about whether it was right or wrong to call for the deaths of others.
Deputies arrested the 47-year-old man on a charge of terrorizing and booked him into the Bayou Dorcheat Correctional Center. Bond has not been set.
Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker says the church did the right thing by calling law enforcement.
“We want to keep our citizens safe,” Parker said. “If anything looks out of sort, it’s okay to call us. Let us respond and see if it’s legitimate.”
“There are several different (what if) scenarios that could have taken place,” McIver said in his Facebook post. “It definitely has heightened our awareness and will cause us to tighten our security measures for the future.”
McIver, who is also running to become Minden’s next chief of police, tells KTAL NBC 6 News he is sharing the story to spread awareness.
“I believe all churches need security in place today. Churches can be considered a soft target to some criminals that wanna hurt people and hurt themselves. Just having that security gives the congregation peace of mind, gives the pastor peace of mind, and folks wanna to come here and worship peacefully.”