PASADENA, Texas — Pandemonium turned to applause inside a Pasadena church Thursday evening as a police chase disrupted a Christmas service before the suspect was hit with a music stand and tackled by officers.
Pasadena police said the man — who has not been publicly identified — was driving recklessly through the parking lot of the First Baptist Church around 6:40 p.m.
Off-duty officers working security at the church tried to stop the man, but he jumped out of the vehicle and ran inside the church, reported KHOU.
The officers chased the screwdriver-wielding man, interrupting a Christmas service in progress.
The man ran to the front of the sanctuary and into the orchestra pit. In his haste to elude officers, he tripped over instruments while holding the large screwdriver. Moreover, the man reportedly waved the tool in a threatening manner, police said.
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Officers used pepper spray on the man, but it didn’t have the desired effect. As a result, a churchgoer hit the suspect with a music stand.
“All of a sudden I hear somebody drop, like bang!” said Olivia Garcia, who was in the audience at the time. “It was crazy.”
Officers and band members worked together to tackle the man and take him into custody. When they began to escort the man out of the auditorium, the audience broke into appreciative applause. Afterward, the service continued.
“From the sound of things, officers would have been justified using deadly force in this situation, and so this could have had a lot of different outcomes, a lot more tragic outcomes, and so I’m just glad it had the ending that it did,” Pasadena police Chief Josh Bruegger said.
The man was taken to a hospital for treatment since police said he appeared to be under the influence of an unknown narcotic.
“Thank God that there was no shooting because he could have had a weapon. He could have had a gun. I didn’t even think about that,” said Garcia.
The man faces charges of aggravated assault against a public servant.
Church employees told KHOU they plan to increase security for the rest of the weekend’s events.