PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A Butler County man is facing charges, accused of forcing a church into lockdown after allegedly making threats during a prayer meeting.
The Victory Family Church in Cranberry Township is in the midst of “21 Days of Prayer.”
About a hundred people were in the sanctuary of the church that towers over Route 19 just after 6 a.m. this morning when police say 43-year-old Edwin Leech walked in and sat down away from those praying.
“He is not a member and to the best of their knowledge he has never been there before,” says Cranberry Township Police Sergeant Chuck Mascellino.
The affidavit of probable cause says Leech started asking suspicious questions about the church and wanted to know where the pastors were.
He’s described as making a scene, trying to question the prayer leader and declaring he was the second messiah.
Mascellino says, most disturbingly, “He made a statement of how this is how mass shootings happen.”
Which the sergeant says prompted the church to go into security measures and lockdown.
After first refusing to leave, Leech finally was escorted out of the building by a security guard. When the police arrived, he became more agitated.
Police say Leech had no weapons, the motorcycle he was driving is not his, and the address he gave has no buildings on the property.
He is now charged with terroristic threats, as well as disorderly conduct and defiant trespassing.
He was arraigned Wednesday morning.
According to the affidavit, Leech told security: “This is how mass shootings happen, I have mental problems.”
The affidavit says Leech said he wanted to “teach them a lesson” on how to treat people. He also reportedly said he is “an expert in mass shootings because he studies them a lot.”
Leech told police he takes medication for his mental condition. The defiant trespass and disorderly conduct charges are both third-degree misdemeanors but Sergeant Mascellino says, “The terroristic threat is a felony because it caused a lockdown or evacuation.”
Leech is set to be back in court next month.
Church pastors tonight are downplaying the incident but Cranberry Township Police say in the current environment, situations like this have to be taken seriously.
Leech tonight is being held in jail on $50,000 cash bond.
He is also facing charges in Washington County, awaiting trial on charges of strangulation and simple assault.