Thursday, December 25, 2008

Gunman Stages Armed Robbery At LDS Chapel In Henderson, Texas; Gets Away With $23, Nobody Hurt

An unidentified gunman staged an armed robbery at a chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Henderson, Texas (about 30 miles ESE of Tyler) on Sunday December 21st, 2008, but ended up getting away with only a single wallet containing $23.

Media stories:

-- Male Church Members Form Human Barrier to Shield Women From Gunman, Tyler Morning Telegraph 12/23/08
-- Church crimes fail to deter Rusk family, Longview News-Journal 12/24/08
-- KLTV Channel 7 Longview. News video embedded below:

Summary: An armed gunman clad in black and wearing a ski mask had made his way into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 1700 Elm St. in Henderson, Texas shortly after services around 7:45 P.M. on Sunday December 21st. He initially approached a female church member in the parking lot, demanding her purse. She refused to give it up. Then one of the male church members moved in to protect her, and the gunman demanded his wallet. He refused to give it up, and the gunman immediately fired a warning shot, maneuvering the couple into the chapel.

When the ladies present heard the shot, they began moving the children out of the fellowship hall and towards a safe room. When the gunman, who was also holding a yellow plastic bag, demanded that everyone give up their wallets, the men formed a protective semi-circle around the women. Eventually, one of the church members, Jerry White, handed over his wallet, which held $23 along with his commercial drivers license, bank card, and temple recommend card. After receiving the wallet, the gunman backed out of the church. Some of the men of the congregation began following the gunman, but he fired another warning shot and escaped.

There have been no arrests yet, but police Lt. Craig Sweeney says he has two potential suspects. But he's also concerned that the fingerprint evidence may prove circumstantial. Sweeney said that during his 20+ year career with the department, there has never been a robbery of parishioners inside a church in Henderson.

Church members are relatively nonplussed about the outcome, since no one got hurt, and only one person actually got robbed. “You never can tell when something like this will happen. The Lord was with us, no one was injured, and everyone is very thankful it turned out the way it did,” Darlene Lanius said.


Anonymous said...

I live close to this town. I was so moved when I heard that the men in the church provided a protective barrier between the madman and the women and children. They were ready to sacrifice themselves for their loved ones. AWhat a wonderful symbol of devotion at this time of year. Perhaps a lot of men and a lot of other churches might take the time to search their hearts and see if they would take such action, and if not, why? By the way I am not a member of LDS, but certainly respect their beliefs and their lifestylesd.

The Jack Mormon said...

Thanks for your response, Anonymous, and for your respect for LDS people. The men were probably telling the robber "You may squeeze off one shot or two if you're lucky, but when you're done, there's still the rest of us to deal with". Plus, the robber had already squeezed off one warning shot, so he probably didn't have much ammo.