Miami, Fla., Feb 26, 2020 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- It took ten parishioners to restrain Thomas Eisel after he attacked a deacon during an anticipated Mass on Saturday.
Deacon George Labelle was tackled by Eisel, 28, while the clergyman offered a homily Feb. 22 at St. Coleman Catholic Church in Pompano Beach, about 40 miles north of Miami.
“The Archdiocese is grateful no one was seriously injured during this frightening incident. The immediate response from parishioners allowed the deacon to continue with the Mass,” the Archdiocese of Miami said, according to the Miami Herald.
“Hopefully, the young man receives the care and help he needs.”
According to security footage, Eisel stood up from a front-row pew and charged the deacon with his head down. It took at least 10 people to separate Eisel from Labelle and then subdue the attacker, the Miami Herald reported.
Eisel has been arrested and charged with an account of battery and disturbing the peace. Because of a probation violation in Volusia County, a Broward County judge has ordered that Eisel be held without bond. The attacker had previously been convicted of battery after attacking a 65-year-old in 2017.
The deacon is reportedly okay and only left with a few bruises. According to the Miami Herald, he said the attack “blind-sided” and surprised him, but that he was grateful for the parishioners’ intervention.
“It’s great, so comforting to know there were people there … it was a relief,” he said.
According to the Miami Herald, deputies said that Eisel admitted to trying to hurt the deacon, but no information about an incentive behind the attack has been released.
Steve Feeley, an off-duty Broward County officer, was sitting a few rows behind the perpetrator. He told WSVN that Eisel had looked suspicious and agitated.
“You know, he was very [fidgety],” Feeley said. “He was giving thumbs up to people, giving thumbs up during the service to the priest on the altar. He was just rocking back and forth. He stood up and made a beeline for the deacon. I didn’t anticipate him going over and literally tackling the deacon right in the middle of the service, but that’s what he did, and myself and a bunch of other people from St. Coleman’s were able to get him down.”
After Eisel was separated from the deacon, the parishioners held down the 28-year-old man. Feeley, his wife, and Tim Gilmore, another parishioner attending the service, were a few of these men and women who provided help, WSVN reported.
“We were not going to let him up under any circumstances, and there were people that were sitting on him,” Feeley said. “My wife was sitting on his legs.”
“Naturally they want [to] try to defend him. You don’t know what’s going through the guy’s mind,” Gilmore said. “You don’t know whether he’s got a knife or something.”
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