RUTHERFORD COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Members of a Rutherford County church are taking extra precaution after a stranger walked into the church during Bible Class, didn’t say a word and walked back out after being confronted.
They said this draws eerie similarities to what led up to the church shooting in Antioch last month.
It was Sunday night during Bible class at the Fellowship Baptist Church in Rutherford County, which began at 6:00 p.m.
“Forty-five minutes into our normal one hour service, I hear the door open and I see someone walks in who is a total stranger; no one knows who this is,” said church member Michael Cato who was teaching the Bible Class.
The strange man went down a hallway towards the bathroom and was confronted by two church members.
The stranger didn’t say a word, left the building, got into his vehicle and left; at least that’s what members thought.
Just as members were turning off the lights getting ready to leave, the same man was here outside, standing in front of these glass doors doing the unthinkable.”
“I happened to look at the opposite door where we were going out and noticed the same character standing at the window, looking in at us, exposing himself, and performing a lewd act.” Cato said.
Church members said they have to walk a fine line since they never want to turn anyone away who may be in need of spiritual help; but at the same time they said they have to think about the safety of members.
“We don’t ever want to shut the door on anybody,” Cato said. “We don’t want to be afraid of people, but we have to somehow, like you said, it’s a balancing act, use some common sense and make sure we all stay safe.”
The first thing that came to mind was the Burnette Church of Christ shooting in Antioch, where Emanuel Samson shot a woman in the parking lot, and then went inside and opened fire on several church members.
“We starting talking about, hey, you know, remember the thing that happened in Antioch, know what happened in other churches, maybe we should lock the door,” Cato said. “This could have been bad, it wasn’t and I don’t think we should overact, but I think it’s just a good indication that all of us in all of these local churches have to realize it’s not the same it was a few years ago and we are going to have to watch out for each other.”
The church is now taking precaution.
“We definitely decided that in the future we are going to change our practice to lock the doors once the service has started,” Cato said.
Church members also told News 2; the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office is providing extra security just in case the man shows back up.
Members said the suspect is a light skinned black male who was wearing a dark red jersey with matching pants.
They said he was about 6 feet, four inches tall with long stringy hair.
The man was driving a white Jeep Cherokee, but church members were not able to get a tag number.