Police: Man Attacks Parishioners During Church Service

| March 29, 2010

WILKINSBURG, Pa. — A man walked into Palm Sunday services and attacked three people, biting one of the victims, police said.

Wilkinsburg police arrested William Carter Jr. on Sunday as the congregation at the Christian Church of Wilkinsburg on Wallace Avenue tries to make sense of the bizarre attack.

Police said Carter, 31, walked into the service, right down the center aisle and asked to speak with the pastor.

"I was in the process of leading worship. So, I asked one of our associate licensed ministers to talk to him (and) she did. We thought he had left. I looked up in the balcony and I could see that he was still there," said the Rev. Janet Hellner-Burris.

She said the man was struggling with mental illness, or addiction or both, and knew a member of the congregation.

"At that point, I could hear some crashing and some furniture was kicked over in the process of trying to get him calmed down," Hellner-Burris said.

Members of the congregation were able to restrain the man, who then bit the pastor's husband on the ear, police said. Officers managed to restrain Carter in handcuffs, but he still tried to go after people in the church, police said.

"We have trained folks in our congregation who immediately stepped up (and) restrained him," Hellner-Burris said. "The police were called and the paramedics were called, and he was taken to where he needs to go, and we've been praying for him ever since."

Hellner-Burris said she's glad Carter went to the church.

"If he had been somewhere else, he might not have been safe enough when whatever overtook him happened, and we were able to help him," Hellner-Burris said. "I'm actually glad he was here this morning, because he could have hurt someone else if he would have gone somewhere else with all of that rage that was inside of him."

Some members of the congregation were sent to the emergency room for treatment after the attack.

Carter remained in police custody charged with simple assault.



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Category: Church Security

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