Easter Sunday is supposed to be a day of peace and celebration for Christians, but the religious holiday took a terrifying twist for one congregation in California.
Over the weekend, an apparently disturbed woman barged into an Easter service taking place at a school named Mt. Everest Academy in the Clairemont neighborhood of San Diego. She was holding a young child in one hand and a handgun in the other.
The scary situation escalated as the woman, later identified as 31-year-old Anna Conkey, shouted apparent threats about “martyrs” and “the rapture” while also claiming that the building would be blown up.
Bizarrely, Conkey had allegedly made similar threats against the congregation to a California news station.
“There’s a woman claiming to be the Messiah, saying she was sent to blow up the foundation of the Church — she’s got a gun and a child is involved,” declared an email sent as a news tip to KNSD NBC 7 just minutes before Conkey burst into the Easter service with a gun. It appears that Conkey herself sent that message.
Members of the congregation scrambled to de-escalate the frightening situation, with several churchgoers surrounding the woman as she pointed the gun and continued her shouting. At a key moment, a person was able to grab Conkey’s arm to control the handgun while others tackled her.
“I was slowly approaching watching them talk her down. She was being very apprehensive pointing the gun at them pointing the gun at her baby saying don’t come any closer,” recalled David Michael Miller, a U.S. Army veteran who helped tackle the woman and end the tense situation.
Police arrived shortly after and took the woman into custody. The 10-month-old child was also taken into care, and authorities also located a young daughter of Conkey in the care of a nearby daycare.
To everyone’s relief, it turned out that the woman’s handgun was not loaded, though neither the congregation nor responding officers knew this at the time. The situation could have ended tragically, but church leaders said God had other plans.
“God divinely protected everyone and then we were able to get the gun away and the baby away, and the police came and we were all good,” the Rev. Benjamin Wisan said.
Wisan told KNSD News that he recognized Conkey as someone who had visited the church before and said the congregation “had some problems with her” previously. “We knew who she was. She had been coming on and off for a little bit of time,” he added to KSWB News. “And we had been praying for her because we wanted to see her set free [from her problems].”
For now, however, the troubled woman will most likely be facing time behind bars. She was charged with making criminal threats and displaying a handgun in a threatening manner.
It’s worth pointing out that California has some of the most strict handgun laws in America, and the school where the congregation held its service was a “gun-free zone” under state law. Yet the law prevented nothing; an apparently unstable woman was still able to threaten a church and a child.
The uncomfortable reality is that law-abiding members of the congregation during this Easter incident in San Diego were barred from being able to defend themselves, because concealed carry was off limits for them. But the same laws were simply ignored by someone intent on wreaking havoc.
While the situation ended without deadly violence, this and past incidents such as the Texas church rampage in November of 2017 and the more recent synagogue shooting raise the question of permitting concealed carry in places of worship. That’s something that churches and states will have to carefully consider, but it could end up saving lives.
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