Saturday, April 13, 2024

Catholic Priest Attacked w/ Machete in Front of Louisiana Church

'He was just dripping blood, and when I looked he had two or three gashes in his head. He was cut bad...'

(Ezekiel Loseke, Headline USA) A Catholic priest in rural Louisiana was in stable condition after being attacked with a machete last week in front of his church, according to the Catholic Review.

The attack on Stephen Ugwu, a priest at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Melville, La., is believed to have been racially motivated.

Ugwu, who is black, originally hails from Africa, the Acadiana Advocate reported.

On Thursday, July 13, around 6 p.m., two men approached Ugwu and demanded that he exchange food for their labor.

After he denied their demand, they brought him in-front of the church, where one of the men allegedly attacked him with the machete. The other man called 911.

The police report that the suspect, Johnny Dwayne Neely, 58, of Palmetto, has been arrested. Among the charges he faces are attempted second-degree murder and home invasion, KATC reported.

Melville Police Chief Phillip Lucas said that because of statements made during the attack, Neely is also being charged with a hate crime.

He allegedly said he “wanted to kill a black man today,” said Lucas, adding that the department was reaching out to the FBI for assistance with the case.

Melville resident, Joshua Johnson, gave an eye-witness account of Neely’s arrest to KFLY 10.

“We get to the corner, the cop had him handcuffed, and I see the chief, Mr. Phillip, assisting the Father,” Johnson said.

“He [Ugwu] was just dripping blood, and when I looked he had two or three gashes in his head,” Johnson added. “He was cut bad.”

Blue Rolfes, director of communications for the Diocese of Lafayette, told OSV News that Ugwu’s condition was getting better despite his “serious wounds.”

“He feels blessed to be alive and that his God protected him during his time of need,” Rolfes said.

“Our diocese is doing everything that we can to cooperate with the investigation,” she added. “We’re very grateful to local first responders as well as law enforcement for their quick response and for their speedy capture of the suspect.”

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