By Kevin Jones/Catholic News Agency
A gunman shot at a Denver-area Catholic church in separate early morning incidents Saturday and Monday. No one was hurt, but one estimate suggests the gunshots caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
Parish staff stressed the need to pray for the perpetrator and emphasized that they are taking the utmost security precautions.
“We are praying for the conversion of whoever did this,” Deacon Derrick Johnson of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church told CNA Aug 8. “If there’s any opportunity to speak to that person, we’d be happy to speak with them and have a dialogue.”
Johnson spoke after two separate rounds of gunshots hit the parish church in unincorporated Adams County just north of Denver. The Adams County Sheriff’s Office is handling the investigation.
“In the early morning of Aug. 6 and 8 there were two separate incidents of shootings that hit the front doors at Assumption Parish,” Johnson recounted.
Security footage of the first incident, the deacon said, appears to show “a single motorcyclist shooting what we believe to be a pistol as he drove by.”
“These incidents happened after hours,” Johnson said. “We don’t believe they are targeting people. Just targeting the church for whatever reason.”
Photos of the church sent to CNA show damage to the church exterior, including a bullet hole in a window. Doors and doorframes also were damaged. Photos show a broken outer window above a set of double doors, with shattered glass beneath.
“The first morning we discovered three shots, two into the door and one through the stained glass in the door,” Johnson said. “Two of the bullets were recovered and given to the Adams County sheriff.”
“On Monday morning, another bullet impact was discovered, this time above the doors, impacting the protective layer of the stained glass. The projectile was also given to the sheriff’s office,” the deacon added.
News of the shooting has not yet become widespread among parishioners, Johnson said, though the first incident took place hours before a wedding.
Johnson wanted parishioners to know that parish staff is committed to their safety.
“We are absolutely conscious of security, between our security team and ensuring that we have adequate camera coverage and lighting in front of the parish. We’ll do our best to make sure that whoever did this is prosecuted,” he told CNA.
Though the bullet fractured one outer window, it did not break through a stained-glass window behind it.
The church’s custom-fit doors were recently completed at a cost of $75,000. The deacon described Assumption as a “very, very old parish.” The parish church was first dedicated in 1912, though the structure has gone through several renovations and expansions incorporating the original building.
Johnson estimated the damage at about $75,000.
The parish church is on the same property as Assumption School, which serves about 130 students in pre-K through eighth grade. The shooting has not affected the school, as the school year has not yet begun.
“Hopefully it’s limited to a late-night incident,” Johnson said. “We will be taking the highest security precautions for the school like we always do.”
Though the parish wants the perpetrator brought to justice, the parish is praying for its attacker.
“We’re praying for whatever is going on in the life of the person who did this,” the deacon said. “The parish is here for them.”
CNA contacted the Adams County Sheriff for comment but did not receive a response by publication time Monday.