'Lord protected us,' Baptist pastor says of gunman

VIDOR, Texas (BP) -- "The Lord protected us," a Texas pastor proclaimed after police arrested a masked gunman more than 250 miles away who cited the specific church as his destination.

Photo from Facebook
"There is an overwhelming recognition that the Lord protected us and provided for us," Terry Wright of First Baptist Church in Vidor told Baptist Press today (Jan. 2).

Police in Seguin, Texas, 254 miles southwest of Vidor, contacted the pastor after arresting 33-year-old Tony Dwayne Albert II, whom police said was dressed in tactical style clothing, had a loaded gun and said he was headed to the church to fulfill an unspecified prophecy.

"We're very grateful that the man was caught," Wright told BP. "We also know that he needs help. He has some problems, evidently, and we ... pray for his well-being, that through this, somehow or another, there be a spiritual impact in his life.

"I prayed for him this morning," Wright said.

Albert told the Seguin Police Department he was headed for First Baptist Church of Vidor, police said after charging Albert with possession of marijuana and felony possession of a firearm. The 9mm handgun had been reported stolen from a residence in Vidor, police said, but Albert's participation in the theft was not certain.

Wright described First Baptist in Vidor as a spiritually strong congregation with modern and tactical security measures in place. The incident underscores the need for evangelism, Wright told BP.

"They are saddened that someone would want to come here and harm people," Wright said of First Baptist Vidor. "They also know there's been other places where this has happened, and this is kind of the signs of the times that we live in. And if anything, it should prompt us to do more in the area of evangelism, in reaching people and ministering to people."

Tony Albert
Seguin Police Department photo
In the town of 11,000, about 350 people attend First Baptist Vidor on any given Sunday, according to 2017 self-reported Annual Church Profile data.

According to reports, police arrested Albert after responding to a call from Las Mananitas restaurant in Seguin.

"He was looking at me and he was saying something about, 'Do you know where the nearest church is at?'" ABC affiliate KSAT quoted waitress Brianna Jimenez. "And he said Baptist church." The restaurant was on lockdown after staff noticed Albert carrying a gun as he exited the business.

Albert is being held in the Guadalupe County Jail and may face additional charges. The Vidor Police Department, the FBI, the Texas Rangers, the Guadalupe County District Attorney's Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting in the investigation.

Albert is a Houston resident and his connection to Vidor was not known, Seguin police spokesperson Tanya Brown told BP today.

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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