Bishop, priest injured in brutal attack at Kamloops church

| October 25, 2010

A Kamloops Roman Catholic bishop is in serious condition at Royal Inland Hospital following a brutal beating at a downtown church Oct. 22.

Kamloops RCMP Sgt. Scott Wilson said Mounties were called to Sacred Heart Cathedral, at 255 Nicola St., just after 10 p.m. for a reported assault.

Once on-scene, officers found two injured men — a priest and a bishop.

Investigators believe someone broke into the church's rectory and began assaulting the bishop, who has been identified as 69-year-old Bishop David Monroe.

The priest, Father Vincent Asomugha, was injured while attempting to intervene.

Police launched an exhaustive search of downtown Kamloops, including the shorelines of the South Thompson and Thompson Rivers.

The RCMP's Air 4 helicopter and a police dog unit were called out, and officers eventually collared a suspect at about 1 a.m. in a shed behind a home at G&M Trailer Park on the Kamloops Indian Band Reserve, on the shore of the South Thompson River.

The suspect, a 30-year-old native man, is believed to have swam across the South Thompson River near the Red Bridge.

Initial reports indicate he was suffering a severe psychotic episode.

Police believe a weapon was used in the attack, but they're not saying what it might have been.

Monsignor Jerry Desmond, vicar general of Kamloops, said he was told the weapon was a microwave door.

"That's what others have told me," he said.

"The door was ripped off."

Desmond said the scene in the rectory Saturday morning was unbelievable.

"There was a lot of blood and broken dishes," he said.

"We're just cleaning up the mess."

Desmond said the attack took place in the front entrance and kitchen areas of the rectory.

"It appears the bishop opened the door to somebody ringing the doorbell at about five minutes to 10 o'clock," he said.

"Did the bishop invite him in, or did he push his way in? We don't know."

According to Desmond, Monroe began calling for Asomugha — who was upstairs at the time — during the altercation.

Asomugha then ran to his bishop's aid, but fell down a staircase and dislocated his shoulder.

However, he was able to run out onto the street and alert two other priests who were walking back to the rectory.

Police were then called, and the suspect fled on foot.

Monroe remains in hospital with serious injuries to his head and face. He is in serious but stable condition.

Asomugha, meanwhile, was treated for shoulder injuries. He has since been released from hospital.

Monroe has been bishop of the Kamloops diocese — which stretches from the Alberta border to Whistler — since 2002.

Wilson said the suspect, who isn't known to police, was the subject of a police complaint at RIH just over an hour before the incident.

At 8:50 p.m., hospital staff called Mounties after the same man "caused a disturbance," according to Wilson.

He is alleged to have broken a window before fleeing from the hospital.

His family members had taken him to RIH earlier in the day after erratic behaviour had them concerned for his well-being.

He appeared before a justice of the peace for a bail hearing on Saturday, Oct. 23, and was remanded in custody for a court appearance on Monday, Oct. 25, in Kamloops.

Mounties are recommending charges of aggravated assault.

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Category: Church Security

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