(LifeSiteNews) — An Oklahoma man was arrested and charged after starting a fire at a Catholic church and attacking one of the church employees with a sword.
Tulsa police responded to a call on October 5 from Holy Family Cathedral and Classical School around 4 p.m. The suspect initially fled the scene before police arrived but was arrested at a nearby grocery store. He has since been charged with “unlawful possession of an unregistered incendiary bomb.”
“Witnesses on the scene said they were taking photos of children who attend school there in front of the church when a man, later identified as Daniel Edwards, approached them speaking erratically and making threats about the children,” the Tulsa Police Department wrote in a Facebook post. “A witness said Edwards told her she needed to run away as fast as she could. The witness notified another school employee, who went after Edwards.”
The report continued to say that he “pulled out a sword and slashed one of the employee’s hands. The employee managed to get away from Edwards, and school administrators locked the school down and got the children to safety.”
Police said that the attacker came to the church with a red cooler, which held two jars “appearing to be a Molotov Cocktail,” a grenade consisting of a bottle filled with flammable liquid. Edwards threw both of his handmade explosives “against the side of the church” after trying to enter the locked building.
Shortly after, police responded to another call of a bomb threat at a nearby grocery store. When Edwards “failed to comply” with orders, “an officer utilized his Taser to gain control over the suspect so he could be taken into custody.” He was carrying a Bible at the time of his arrest.
Edwards’ car was found in the parking lot, with “a sword in the backseat.” Although police at the time anticipated “charges for assault with a deadly weapon with intent to do bodily harm, possession of an unregistered destructive device, and potentially other charges,” a Thursday release from the Northern District of Oklahoma Attorney’s Office states that the charges are simply “unlawful possession of an unregistered incendiary bomb.”
The statement also explained that there was surveillance footage from the church that caught the attack on video.
Father Gary Kastl, the rector at Holy Family Cathedral, released a letter on Thursday through the diocesan website.
“Yesterday, our parish and school community was targeted by an individual who intended to spread fear and harm,” Kastl wrote.
The priest thanked the school personnel “who reacted quickly and immediately moved the students inside the school.” He added that the fire had caused “damage to some south-facing windows.”
“We also want to express our sincere admiration for our front desk attendant, Rod Notzon, who confronted the individual and suffered lacerations on his hands after the individual attacked him with what appeared to be a sword,” Kastl continued. “Rod has been treated at Saint Francis Health System, is in stable condition, and currently recovering. The individual never approached nor made his way into the school.”
Kastl offered Mass this morning for Notzon’s healing, followed by a Eucharistic procession. “We invite the community to come, pray, and heal with us,” he said.
A clear motivation for the attack has yet to be identified.
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