In early June, the security team at Fellowship Bible Baptist Church thought something seemed off about an 18-year-old white man who came to the Wednesday night service. As the church’s security chief, Ezra Wyche, put it, “sometimes you get that feeling that something is just not right.”
Watch more coverage from local CBS affiliate WMAZ-TV here.
The church’s security team is made up of active and retired military and law enforcement personnel trained in threat assessment. Something about the guy who visited that Wednesday night service, but had never been to the church before, made them get a picture of his car with his license plate. They were able to glean enough information to find the guy on Facebook. One of his pictures showed him posing with an AR-15 style rifle and the caption, “I’m no criminal, but if I’m gunna commit a crime, I’m only targeting gun-free zones.”
Wyche and his team immediately called the Houston County Sheriff’s Office. Later that week, two deputies and an ATF agent paid a visit to the guy, who lived with his mom in Kathleen, south of Warner Robins. The guy admitted that he was pretty hard right, but didn’t want to hurt anyone.
Apparently the deputies didn’t buy it, because they served him with a criminal trespass order—meaning that he can never set foot on Fellowship Bible Baptist’s property again. His name hasn’t been released since no charges were filed, however, the deputies turned over the results of their investigation to the ATF and FBI. If he was brazen enough to brandish an assault rifle so soon after Buffalo and Uvalde, chances are there are more skeletons in his closet. For good measure, the guy’s mother ordered him to take his new toy out of her house.
When senior pastor Tolan Morgan heard about this, he was shaken—enough that he was only willing to talk to WMAZ off camera.
“A threat walked into our church. He knows where we worshiped. He sat through the entire service. He knows my face and he is still out there. I need to protect my family. … We came that close to dying. That guy could’ve walked in and went to spraying. He posted on his Facebook page that he’s a new proud owner of an AR-15. He could’ve walked in Wednesday and went to killing. The fact that he didn’t, one, was by the grace of God and, two, we have to view as he could come back. We came that close to danger coming to walk in our church. It’s one of those situations where you have a reality check. Life comes and knocks on your door. You can’t look at what happens across the country and say, ‘That’s not coming to my door.' That’s foolish," Morgan said.
You can’t blame Morgan for being on edge. After all, besides Buffalo and Uvalde, he probably still remembers the massacre at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. He did, however, praise Wyche and his team, saying that their training allowed them to “identify a suspicious presence” in their midst.
Add this to the long list of evidence that weapons of war should not be on the streets.