At least four people were hurt at an Albuquerque church Sunday when a visitor jumped out of the pews and stabbed a choir member during a song, police and witnesses said.
The victims did not appear to have life-threatening injuries, police said.
Two parishioners told the Los Angeles Times that after communion at the St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church on Sunday morning, a man in his teens or early 20s leaped from the pews and stabbed the choir's lead singer while the choir was singing.
"While that was going on, people were just panicking. It was scary, you wouldn’t think something like that would happen in church," Reyes Stinson, 18, told The Times.
Another parishioner, Vanessa Lucero, 14, told The Times she was sitting right behind the man, who "was kind of twitchy, sketchy looking. He had a tattoo of an upside-down star on his wrist."
Lucero said the man climbed over the pews, punched and then repeatedly stabbed the choir's lead singer.
"He said, like, 'False preacher!' " Lucero said. "I don’t know why.”
The congregation subdued the attacker, at which point more parishioners could have been stabbed, Stinson said.
After the suspect was in handcuffs, Lucero said, "Old ladies were telling him, 'God bless you, forgive yourself,' and he was saying, 'You don’t know about the Masons.' "
Neither witness had seen the man before. After the attack, Stinson said that the choir's lead singer had stab wounds on his left arm and that his jacket was "torn to pieces."
“At this point, we’re just trying to deal with it," Father John C. Daniel said in a brief phone interview with The Times. "It sounds like everybody is going to be OK.”
In a statement, Albuquerque police confirmed that the suspect was in custody but did not release his identity.
[Update, 4:15 p.m. April 28: On Sunday afternoon, police identified the suspect as Lawrence Capener, 24. "He is currently being interviewed and will be facing numerous felony charges," Albuquerque Police Department spokeswoman Tasia Martinez said in a statement.]
"It has been determined that he is not a parishioner," police said. "As to the motive regarding the multiple stabbing, this has not yet been determined."