Hollywood, FL – A knife wielding man was shot by police inside a church in Hollywood, Florida at Lutheran Memorial Lutheran Church. Witnesses described the suspect as very aggressive and was seen chasing a janitor.
The pastor, James Congee stated, “I heard a commotion outside and the janitor came running into the room, and behind him was the fellow with the knife. He was right on top of him.”
Congee was reportedly involved in conducting a bible study when the suspect abruptly entered the room. A dozen church members were inside. “The janitor came running into the room and behind him was this fellow with a knife. The fellow with the knife got caught in the door,” he said. “I pushed him out and got the door closed.”
Congee said the incident was shocking. “He said he wanted to get some coffee and I said, ‘Well, go and make some coffee,'” Congee recalled. “So I pushed him out, and then I used a cellphone to call police.”
Police quickly arrived on scene to find Johnathan Shae, 24, threatening the pastor and parishioners. “For the safety of himself and others around, an officer had no choice but to discharge his weapon,” said Hollywood Police Lieutenant Norris Redding.
The officer fired one shot at Shae. He was wounded and medics transported him to Memorial Regional Hospital.
Members are now coping with the incident. “I’m just concerned about the people in the room, everybody, and there were senior citizens and they were pretty nervous about the whole thing,” said Congee. “With all the yelling and screaming that was going on. There’s obviously something wrong with the guy.”
Police said the suspect has a history of mental illness and faces multiple felony counts. Congee said, “I’m not surprised about that because his behavior was bizarre.”
The officer who fired his gun has been identified as Sergeant Luis Ortiz. He is a 20-year veteran with the Hollywood Police Department.