ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A man jumped over several pews at an Albuquerque Catholic church and stabbed several members in the choir area just as Mass was ending Sunday, Albuquerque police said.
According to authorities, Lawrence Capener, 24, walked up to the choir area at St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church and stabbed church-goers just as the choir began singing its final hymn. The man continued his attack until others raced to subdue him, police said.
Four church-goers were injured in the attack but their wounds weren’t life-threatening, Albuquerque police spokesman Robert Gibbs aid. Among those stabbed were the church choir director Adam Alvarez, flutist Gerald Madrid and two other parishioners before he was tackled by several other churchgoers, Gibbs said.
All four were being treated at hospitals and listed in stable condition, police said late Sunday.
Three church members also were evaluated by Albuquerque Fire Department on scene and didn’t go to the hospital, investigators said.
It was not immediately known what sparked the bizarre attack at the church on the city’s Westside. Investigators don’t yet know whether Capener had ties to the victims or whether he regularly attended the church, Gibbs said.
Several church members, including an off-duty firefighter and others at the church, held Capener until police arrived.
Madrid told KOB-TV that he tried to stop Capener by placing him in a bear hug but was stabbed in the neck and back.
Police described the stabbing scene as chaotic as parishioners screamed as the attack unfolded.
The choir’s pianist, Brenda Baca King, told KRQE-TV that the attacker was looking at the lead soloist. “I just remember seeing him hurdle over the pews, hurdle over people and run (toward) us and I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is not good,'” Baca King said.
Capener was interviewed by police and was expected to face felony charges, Gibbs said.
It’s not yet known whether Capener has an attorney.
Archbishop of Santa Fe Michael Sheehan released a statement Sunday afternoon saying he was saddened by the attack.
“This is the first time in my 30 years serving as archbishop in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and as Bishop of Lubbock, that anything like this has occurred,” Sheehan said. “I pray for all who have been harmed, their families, the parishioners and that nothing like this will ever happen again,” Sheehan said.
The church didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment on Sunday afternoon.