- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Florida pastor jumped into action Sunday morning after a man pulled out a fake gun in the middle of a sermon and pointed it at the pastor’s mother’s head, demanding money.

“He was shouting obscenities. My mother was trembling and falling. Then he told my wife to tie up the children … I just knew I had to act,” the pastor, Les Snodgrass of The Door Christian Fellowship Church in Melbourne, told Florida Today.

Mr. Snodgrass said he talked to the suspect until he got close enough to make a split-second decision.

“I just pushed against the wall with all my might,” he told a local CBS affiliate. “I had him by the shoulders, and as soon as I did that, my son leapt from the platform into the air and pounced on him. He punched him twice in the head.”

Mr. Snodgrass said his wife held the man with a stun gun until police arrived.

Melbourne police arrested John Grace, 21, and charged him with armed robbery and 20 additional charges, including aggravated assault and false imprisonment, CBS reported.

The entire incident was captured on the church’s audio system, which was released Monday by Melbourne Police.

“He told everybody to get on the floor,” said Cmdr. Dan Lynch, a spokesman for the Melbourne Police Department. “It is very frustrating. The church is supposed to be a safe haven for people.”

The BB gun Mr. Grace was carrying was realistically modeled after a Sig Sauer pistol, police said. He was also carrying a large knife and zip ties, which he threw to churchgoers and demanded they tie themselves up, police said. Police later found a bag belonging to Mr. Grace that they said contained duct tape and torn cloth, Florida Today reported.

“[Mr. Grace’s] parents come to our church and he comes out periodically,” said Darius Snodgrass, the pastor’s son. “But for some reason he just stood up and held a gun up to my grandmother’s head and forced me to go to the altar.”

The pastor told Florida Today that he “never thought” the suspect “would do something like this.”

“We have had to order some homeless people out of the congregation but I never thought it would be Johnny,” he said. “Why did it happen? We’re targets. The whole mentality about Christianity has radically shifted.”


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