Pastor’s pistol-packing grandson may have saved church, sheriff says

| March 26, 2012

BOILING SPRINGS — A Spartanburg County sheriff is praising a man with a concealed weapons permit who helped disarm someone who kicked in the door of a church armed with a shotgun.

Sheriff Chuck Wright made national news last year when he urged all women in his county to get a permit to carry a gun after a woman was raped in a park. He said Sunday’s incident shows how citizens carrying a legal weapon can stop crimes and prevent bloodshed.

Jesse Gates had already been to the Southside Freewill Baptist Church in Boiling Springs once Sunday morning, so the pastor’s grandson was keeping his eye on the parking lot when he saw Gates come back, this time taking a shotgun out of his trunk, Wright said.

“They locked the door and they were calling 911 at the time. He didn’t draw his weapon or make any move or action toward this gentleman until he kicked the door open and forced the issue,” Wright said.

After Gates kicked in the door, the pistol pointed at him distracted him enough that the pastor was able to grab the shotgun. Members of the church kept him down until deputies arrived, Wright said.

Gates, 38, had disrupted services before, coming into the church, collapsing on the altar complaining of chest pains and demanding to see his children, who church members said don’t attend. The church called an ambulance, but Gates left without getting help, authorities said.

Gates mentioned his children again as he was being led away in handcuffs in front of the cameras of several television stations.

 

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