RUSHVILLE, Neb. - (KNEP) - The Immaculate Conception Church is moving forward in the healing process after an officer-involved shooting interrupts Palm Sunday mass.
Deputy involved shooting graphic by MGN.
According to Father Joseph K Joseph, they just began a gospel reading during mass when someone was heard in the back calling for help. Most of the individuals in the front including Father Joseph thought someone had passed out or needed medical attention.
It wasn’t until they heard the sound of gunshots that everyone knew something terrible was going on. The church has a glass front door which leads you to a foyer-type room before welcoming goers to the pews through a wooden set of doors. Those wooden doors are left open during mass which gives people an opportunity to pick up a bulletin before sitting down. There is a considerable amount of space between the door to the first set of pews which is where the altercation between Clarence Leading Fighter and the Sheridan County Deputy occurred.
After hearing the gun shots, everyone headed to the back of the church which has two shelter rooms as well as an exit door that leads to the outside. With the front of the church closed off due to the situation, Father Joseph said many people exited through the back with the shelter rooms full.
Father Joseph said he didn’t recognize the face of Leading Fighter and doesn’t think he is a member of the church.
After the shooting, many of those in attendance came together to console each other. Father Joseph stated the Bishop has been made aware of the situation and is coming on Wednesday. The bishop will meet with the people and have a blessing as well. They are hoping to have councilors available for both kids and adults.
The church is hoping to return to normalcy as soon as possible and will have regularly scheduled masses throughout the end of the week leading up to the Easter Sunday services.
Father Joseph is appreciative of those from other catholic churches and other denominations who are reaching out with their thoughts and prayers.
Lieutenant Brian Eads with the Nebraska State Patrol stated they are unaware of the exact number of those in attendance. Eads added, Leading Fighter was showing signs of threatening behavior but at this time it is unknown what kind or what was said. There is a belief those inside were in danger at the time.
Lieutenant Eads added a decision on any type of administrative leave for the deputy would come from the Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office. At this time, the sheriff’s office has declined to comment on if that decision has been made.