A pastor’s quick thinking saved lives on Sunday when a self-described “man of Islam” entered a Texas church and declared he was ready to “slay infidels.”
John Johnson III of the Corinth Missionary Baptist church in Bullard, Texas, came face-to-face with Rasheed Abdul Aziz, 40, after morning services Sept. 13.
Aziz was wielding a handgun and wearing camouflage pants, a tactical vest, combat boots and a helmet when he allegedly said, “People are going to die today,” KLTV-7 reported Monday.
“Immediately my mind went to the fact that I knew we had several children and young members that were playing and running in the fellowship hall, I mouthed to them, ‘This man has a weapon, I need you guys to go,'” Johnson, 45, told the station.
Johnson, a former parole officer who works with troubled teens and is trained to diffuse verbal altercations, told the Tyler Morning Telegraph on Tuesday his instincts took over in his church’s conference room. The whole exchange took roughly five minutes.
“Like clockwork, it kicked in,” he told the newspaper.
“I never gave him the power of feeling that he was in control, that I was frightened. I just continued to engage, but I was very cautious not to raise my voice or make any quick moves.”
Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea have collaborated to create “Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians,” which confirms that groups like Pew Research, Newsweek and The Economist also identify Christians as “the world’s most widely persecuted religious group.”
When the church cleared out and an opportunity presented itself, Johnson then was able to leave without resistance from Aziz.
Cops picked the man up shortly thereafter, but not before he left a note thanking Johnson for calming his mind.
“My name is Rasheed, you helped me at a time of need, this house is blessed by God and all faiths,” the note read, the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported.
“I believe that his intent was when he came to our church was to actually kill somebody,” Johnson said, the newspaper reported.
Aziz is charged with felony possession of a firearm and is being held in the Smith County Jail, KSLA-12 News reported Monday.