ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (CNS) — A suspect was being held on $75,000 bond after being arrested following the stabbing of four worshipers at an Albuquerque parish near the end of Mass April 28.
The suspect, Lawrence Capener, 24, also had his hand lacerated in the scuffle following the initial attack.
Two stabbing victims remained hospitalized the day after the attack at St. Jude Thaddeus Church in Albuquerque.
“This is the first time in my 30 years serving as archbishop in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and as Bishop of Lubbock, that anything like this has occurred,” Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of Santa Fe said in an April 28 statement. “I pray for all who have been harmed, their families, the parishioners and that nothing like this will ever happen again.”
Police said Capener jumped from his seat as the recessional hymn began. According to witnesses, the assailant called out “fake preacher!” when he began stabbing choir director Adam Alvarez, 48.
The attacker stabbed Alvarez repeatedly in the back and the arm, police reported. Another choir member, Gerald Madrid, tried to stop the attack by wrapping his arms around the assailant, but the suspect stabbed Madrid five times in the back, police said. As Madrid fell to the floor, other parishioners, many of them who were off-duty public safety officers, subdued the suspect.
During the struggle, the man cut two other people, including Michael Tungate, 37, and off-duty Albuquerque firefighter, Greg Aragon, who was treated for a minor laceration and released from a local area hospital, according to police. One of Capener’s hands also was cut in the struggle.
Capener, of Albuquerque, was booked on three counts of aggravated battery with great bodily harm.
Alvarez issued a statement April 29 from the hospital where he was being treated.
“I wanted to let everyone know that their prayers are appreciated and that I am making a good recovery. The doctors are very optimistic,” he said. “I will be back at St. Jude Thaddeus as soon as I am fully recovered.”
During questioning by police detectives, Capener said he intended to attack Alvarez because he believes Alvarez is part of a group of Freemasons who are involved in a large-scale conspiracy.
Police said Capener told medical staff treating his wound that the Freemasons have tapped into the radio waves of the church’s microphones to send out their message. Police reported that he said the devil was sending a message through the microphone whenever Alvarez sang or spoke, adding he had been attending church at St. Jude’s for the past three months but that day he “had enough” and had to take action.
Police said Capener also admitted to vandalizing the Masonic lodge in nearby Rio Rancho, within hours prior to the church attack. Capener still had spray paint on his hands when he was taken into custody.
Father John C. Daniel, pastor of St. Jude Thaddeus, told the Albuquerque Journal daily newspaper that he spoke with the mother of the alleged assailant and was left with the impression that Capener was challenged by mental health issues. “There was no connection between the choir director and the assailant,” he said.