Palm Sunday morning Mass suddenly became violent at a Catholic church in Nebraska.
As the pastor was reading the Gospel of Christ’s suffering, a Sheridan County sheriff’s deputy fatally shot a man just inside the doors of the Rushville, Nebraska, church. According to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church priest Father Joseph K. Joseph, the incident took place about 11 a.m. during Palm Sunday mass. Father Joseph stated a man had burst into the church sanctuary followed by law enforcement officers, and he heard multiple shots fired. He said parishioners believed the man had a knife in his hand.
The man, identified as Clarence Leading Fighter, 32, was a suspect in an assault that happened at a separate location earlier, the Nebraska State Patrol said.
“An initial investigation indicated that the deputy used deadly force to protect himself and the parishioners from potential serious harm, the patrol said. For the 100 to 150 people at the 10:30 a.m. MDT Mass, the event was traumatic, said the Rev. Joseph K. Joseph, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church.The Mass was never finished, ending abruptly as deputies cleared out the church after the shooting. Joseph said he tried to offer peace and consolation to parishioners who were clearly shaken. And they tried to console him as well, he said.Joseph said that as he read the Gospel, he heard the sound of someone falling and at first thought that someone had passed out. But then his mind raced to the thought of a terrorist attack as he looked back to a commotion near the glass doors that separate the entryway of the church from its sanctuary. Joseph said he saw several people rush into the entryway and didn’t immediately recognize them as law enforcement officers.”