|Editions|myCNN|Video|Audio|News Brief|Free E-mail|Feedback||
Axe-wielding priest attacks abortion clinic
ROCKFORD, Illinois (CNN) -- A Catholic priest rammed his car into an abortion clinic Saturday and chopped at walls and windows with an axe before being subdued by the building's owner, police said.
Father John Earl, 32, of St. Patrick's Catholic Church in nearby Rochelle, was arrested and charged with burglary and felony criminal damage. He's being held in the Winnebago County Jail. Bond was set at $10,000.
Rockford Deputy Police Chief Dominic Iasparro said police got a call at about 8 a.m. CT (9 a.m. ET) that a car had rammed through a garage door at the building housing the Northern Illinois Women's Center and an intruder was on the premises.
When police arrived minutes later, they heard shots from the second floor.
They ran upstairs to find Earl laying on the floor, and building owner Wayne Webster holding a shotgun.
Webster said he fired two shots to stop Earl as he swung his axe.
Earl was not injured, and Webster was not charged. He has a permit for his weapon.
"He was going to split my head with an axe," Webster told CNN. "He was berserk, he was screaming. I fired two shots into the wall, and I forced him to lie face down on the floor."
Webster said he gave police a video he had taped Wednesday of Earl in front of the building, looking at the security cameras.
"Before he drove through the garage door today, he threw bricks at the security cameras," Webster said Saturday.
He said he had also noticed Earl in front of the building a few months ago, praying on the sidewalk. Earl told Webster the building was condemned because of the presence of the abortion clinic.
Iasparro would not say what Earl told police or what motive he may have had for his actions.
"We have no comment on statements that were made," Iasparro said.
He said abortion protesters regularly demonstrate outside the building, but that there have been no similar incidents.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use Thursday of a controversial pill that induces abortion. The approval sparked a heated debate between anti-abortion groups and pro-abortion rights organizations.
A man who answered the phone at St. Patrick's Catholic Church confirmed that Earl was a priest, but would not give any other information.
Abortion debate intensifies in Mexico
Welcome to @Rockford!
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.