A man walked into the Total Life Ministries on East 5th Avenue early New Year's Day and threatened the congregation with a knife.
Witnessed told 10TV that it was a terrifying experience.
It was a service to welcome the New Year, but at 1 a.m. a man abruptly walked in, and started swearing and harassing parishioners.
A minute later, he pulled out a knife and threatened Harvey Hale who was in the church.
“I kill you in front of everyone,” the man said as he poked Hale in the neck with the knife.
Hale told 10TV that it was the most frightening day of his life.
“He was saying he was a blood and he wanted to kill everybody, kill me, kill my family. It was just awful,” said Hale.
Hale said the suspect had apparently entered Life Ministries to be forgiven for something he had done. The man would fluctuate between being calm and agitated.
When he was confronted, he threatened more harm.
“He said he had guns in his car, and he would go back out there,” said Hale.
The man left briefly while parishioners hid in the pews, and then made a run for it when they thought he was gone.
“There were some kids in there and they were screaming, and it was just chaos, just chaos,” added Hale.
Police then arrived with guns drawn. They were able to arrest the man peacefully.
He was identified as Reginald Heller, 53. Heller appeared in court on Wednesday on an abduction charge. He’s being held on $1 million bond.
“It was crazy. We were just serving God and having a good time, and he just came in and tried to hold us hostage and everything,” added Hale. “It was just a madhouse.”
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