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Priests at St Mary Magdalen Church in Abbeville, Louisiana duck for cover behind the altar during the First Holy Communion Mass on Saturday (Supplied)

Quick action by alert parishioners and local police are credited with averting a tragedy at a Louisiana parish on Saturday. Source: CNA.

As 60 children were preparing for their first Communion at St Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in Abbeville, south of Lafayette, Louisiana, an armed teenager opened the back door. 

“The individual was immediately confronted by parishioners, escorted outside, and the police were called,” the parish said in a statement. 

In an interview with the Acadiana Advocate, Abbeville Police Chief Mike Hardy credited parishioners for having disarmed the suspect and having him already pinned to the ground when police arrived.

A livestream video of the Mass captures the tense moments when presiding Fr Nicholas DuPre was alerted to the situation.

Though the suspect was quickly neutralised, panic broke out when the suspect told police a second shooter was near the building. That is when law enforcement entered the church to make sure there was no additional danger. No other suspect was found.

The 16-year-old suspect was charged with terrorising and two counts of possession of a firearm by a juvenile. He was held in the Abbeville General Hospital Behavioral Unit for medical evaluation. 

Lafayette, Louisiana Bishop J Douglas Deshotel said: “We are thankful to God that a tragedy was avoided.”

“Let us pray for an end to all threats of violence to innocent human life,” he added. 

The parish informed that “out of an abundance of caution, we will have uniformed law enforcement at all upcoming Masses”.


Louisiana parishioners stop teen armed with rifle from entering first Communion Mass (CNA)