Valdosta Daily Times

National, International News

April 30, 2013

Police: N.M. church stabbing sparked by ‘Mason’ fear

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Lawrence Capener was shaking hands with his fellow churchgoers at Sunday Mass, exchanging the traditional peace offerings when people next to him noticed something strange — his hands were quite sweaty and clammy. Then, as the choir began singing a hymn to wrap up Mass, the man bolted from his pew, ran to the choir area and started stabbing the choir leader and others, witnesses said.

Parishioners screamed and ran for cover and others, including the church flutist, tried to subdue him. Police said the assailant thought the choir members were members of a secret society.

The episode caused panic among church members such as 12-year-old Jordan Schalow and his mother, Valerie, who had just heard the pastor at St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church read a Gospel message about the importance of loving everyone and had the recent bombing in Boston on their mind.

Jordan had told his mom earlier, “Thank God. I’m in church and nothing bad is going to happen here.”

Valerie Schalow said her husband, Gerald, sat next to Capener during services and had noticed him acting nervously. When he shook Capener’s hand, she said her husband found them to be very sweaty. “My husband even had to go wash his hands after that,” Schalow said.

The random and violent attack by the knife-wielding Capener, 24, sparked confusion and fear in the Albuquerque Westside church as the choir started singing “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.”

According to a criminal complaint released Monday, Capener vaulted over pews and lashed out at choir director Adam Alvarez, who had his back toward him.

“I saw what was happening and I yelled at my husband,” said Schalow, who ran out of the church with her three children. “The guy had been acting strange during Mass.”

The complaint said church flutist Gerald Madrid saw Alvarez being attacked and attempted to “bear hug” Capener to try and stop him. Madrid was then stabbed five times in his back by Capener, authorities said.

“I instinctively just dropped my flute and I rushed the guy,” Madrid said. “I never saw a knife, but I just rushed him.”

At least two others were injured in the attack, police said.

Capener later told police that he was “99 percent sure Alvarez was a mason” and that he thought Alvarez was involved in a conspiracy.

He told the investigator that Masons are a group involved “in a conspiracy that is far more reaching than I could or would believe.”

Capener, whose mother is active in the church, said he stabbed the others who tried to subdue him because he thought they might be Masons, too.

Among those to subdue Capener was off-duty Albuquerque Fire Department Lt. Greg Aragon, who then helped treat patients after the attack, authorities said. He was also stabbed in the attack and was later treated at a hospital and released.

The affidavit said Capener apologized for stabbing the others after he was read his rights and agreed to speak to police.

Masons are a fraternal group involved in charity and other community activities, but many of their rituals and symbols are secret.

Capener was charged on three counts of aggravated battery and ordered held on $250,000 bail.

St. Jude Thaddeus’ pastor, the Rev. John Daniel, said Capener’s mother was “very active” in the parish and serves as a Eucharistic minister there.

“He was here occasionally but not very often,” Daniel said.

Daniel said that Capener had just graduated from a community college and appeared to be doing well after getting a job. “I think he’s been struggling for a while, maybe with some (mental) health issues,” Daniel said.

Both Alvarez and Madrid remained hospitalized Monday and their families said the men were recovering from wounds that were described as not life-threatening.

Services at the 3,000-member church resumed Monday. Parishioners stopped to leave flowers, notes and candles outside the church and at the church’s shrine dedicated to St. Jude, the church’s namesake and the Catholic Patron Saint of “lost causes.”

In Mass homilies throughout the day, Daniel said he compared St. Catherine of Siena, who worked for peace in 14th century Italy, with the power of forgiveness.

Robynn Madrid, whose husband Gerald Madrid was recovering from the attack, said despite the pain Capener caused, she’s already forgiven him. “We’re praying for his family,” she said.

Spanish choir member Richard Aragon said he, too, is trying to show compassion and forgiveness, even though he had trouble sleeping the night after the stabbing. Aragon was preparing for the upcoming Spanish services when the attack began.

“There’s nothing you can do. There’s obviously something...he’s touched or something,” Aragon said. “It already happened. It’s too late.”

1
Text Only
National, International News
  • Stowaway teen forces review of airport security

    A 15-year-old boy found his way onto an airport’s tarmac and climbed into a jetliner’s wheel well, then flew for five freezing hours to Hawaii — a misadventure that forced authorities to take a hard look at the security system that protects the nation’s airline fleet.

    April 22, 2014

  • South Korea Ship Sink_Rich copy.jpg Death count in ferry sinking tops 100

    One by one, coast guard officers carried the newly arrived bodies covered in white sheets from a boat to a tent on the dock of this island, the first step in identifying a sharply rising number of corpses from a South Korean ferry that sank nearly a week ago.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP520422034 copy.jpg Today in History for Tuesday, April 22, 2014

    Today is Tuesday, April 22, the 112th day of 2014. There are 253 days left in the year.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Immigration _Rich copy.jpg DHS secretary re-evaluating deportation priorities

    Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday he’s re-evaluating the Obama administration’s deportation priorities to make certain they’re focused on national security, public safety and border security, amid growing pressure from the Latino community and President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats. 

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rethinking Pot 420_Rich copy.jpg Public smoke-out marks pot holiday in Colorado

    Tens of thousands of revelers raised joints, pipes and vaporizer devices to the sky Sunday at a central Denver park in a defiant toast to the April 20 pot holiday, a once-underground celebration that stepped into the mainstream in the first state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Submarine Sleep Sched_Rich copy.jpg Navy OKs changes for submariners’ sleep schedules

    With no sunlight to set day apart from night on a submarine, the U.S. Navy for decades has staggered sailors’ working hours on schedules with little resemblance to life above the ocean’s surface.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • South Korea Ship Sink_Rich copy.jpg Grim work for families as more bodies discovered

    There are no names listed as relatives huddle around signboards to identify bodies from a sunken ferry. Just the slimmest of clues about mostly young lives now lost. Many favored hoodies and track pants. One girl painted her fingernails red and toenails black. Another had braces on her teeth.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP600421099 copy.jpg Today in History for Monday, April 21, 2014

    Today is Monday, April 21, the 111th day of 2014. There are 254 days left in the year.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Space Robot_Rich copy.jpg NASA’s Robonaut finally getting legs

    Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Nepal Everest Avalanc_Rich copy.jpg Another body pulled from snow in avalanche

    Search teams recovered a 13th body Saturday from the snow and ice covering a dangerous climbing pass on Mount Everest, where an avalanche a day earlier swept over a group of Sherpa guides in the deadliest disaster on the world’s highest peak.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results