In some editions yesterday, Michael G. Colvin of the Reformation Lutheran Church was quoted as saying that all three men arrested in the area over the weekend in connection with abortion clinic bombings belonged to his church. Only Michael Donald Bray, co-pastor with Colvin, is a member.
One of three men arrested Saturday in connection with eight bombings of abortion-related facilities in Maryland, Virginia and the District said yesterday from a jail cell that he is innocent and has begun a 40-day fast for "the babies who are being brought to slaughter."
Michael Donald Bray, 32, of Bowie was arrested late Saturday as federal officials held a news conference to announce capture of two other suspects, Thomas E. Spinks, 37, also of Bowie, and Kenneth Williams Shields, 34, of Laurel.
In an interview at the Montgomery County Detention Center where he was being held without bond pending a hearing tomorrow, Bray accused agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms of "hounding" him since his Nov. 17 arrest at a Wheaton clinic protest for blocking access to a public building. Two days later, a bomb exploded at the Wheaton Clinic. The three men have been charged in that bombing and seven others.
"I have been framed and I don't know how to get out of it," Bray said yesterday from a visiting cell in the jail.
"ATF people have been hounding me ever since we sat in. Why, I suspect, is because I have stated clearly and repeatly to the interrogators of the ATF, even last night after the arrest, that the only apparent method of stopping abortion is direct intervention," Bray said. "Some have chosen obviously to destroy the facilities where the slaughter takes place. I have chosen another tack of direct intervention which has been to place my person between the abortionist and his victim, a la sit-in.
"While I have not chosen the other course -- destruction of property -- I cannot condemn those who have. That is why I cannot in good conscience participate in that process which seeks to prevent others who are seeking to protect the innocent -- in other words, assisting ATF investigators. In this regard I may be called pro-choice, quote, unquote," Bray said.
Bray said he believes he was "framed" because of his staunch antiabortion beliefs and his activities, including picketing and sitting in at abortion clinics. He said ATF agents had interviewed him four times since the November sit-in. Earlier this month, a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge acquitted Bray for his part in the sit-in, but five other protesters served jail terms for the incident rather than pay a $45 fine.
Gerard E. Mitchell, a Bethesda attorney and member of Maryland Right-to-Life, said yesterday at the jail that Bray had asked him to serve as his defense attorney. Last year, Mitchell served as a court-appointed attorney for a 24-week-old fetus in an effort to block a 19-year-old, severely retarded Maryland woman from obtaining an abortion at her mother's request after she was impregnated during a rape while she was under the care of two institutions for the handicapped. But Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger, who ordered a temporary stay of the abortion, refused to review the case to reverse a lower court decision. Mitchell would not say yesterday whether he would represent the three Maryland men.
Bray, described as a house painter and lay minister, was arrested Saturday night as he, his wife Jane and their three children, returned from visiting his brother, Daniel Bray of Crofton."Since I'm here, I'd like to attempt a 40-day fast for the babies who are being brought to slaughter, for the national sin of abortion and for the doctors who have turned into murderers," Bray said.
Bray refused yesterday to discuss his relationship with Spinks and Shields. But Saturday, an hour and a half before his arrest, he told a reporter that he knew Spinks from church and from antiabortion picket lines but not Shields.
Members of one church Bray attended, the Grace Lutheran Church, voted last February to eliminate his position as lay minister, which led him to leave the church.
Bray began his own church, the Reformatory Lutheran Church in Bowie, shortly after he left Grace Lutheran. "He felt the Lutheran Church was not strong enough on certain issues," Ericksen said yesterday. " . . . Mostly moral issues, obviously abortion and related issues were involved."
Michael G. Colvin, 37, and another former member of the Grace Lutheran Church, followed Bray. Together, they now act as pastors -- Colvin as a volunteer and Bray in a paid position -- to a congregation of about 50 families that meets at the Benjamin Tasker Junior High School in Bowie. Neither have been ordained by the Lutheran ministry, but according to Colvin were "ordained by their congregation." Colvin is a procurement analyst for the Army. Bray holds a degree from the Conservative Baptist Theological Seminary in Denver, Colvin said.
Both men have preached from the pulpit against abortion, Colvin said, but both are committed to nonviolence. The other two arrested are church members, Colvin said.
"I knew when I heard [about the arrest] and I know now that Mike has nothing to do with the bombings . . . . He's the very antithesis of a kook or nut," Colvin said.