FORT MILL, S.C., JULY 4 -- About 500 people angered at the Rev. Jerry Falwell for taking over the PTL ministry of disgraced evangelist Jim Bakker stampeded into the Heritage Grand Hotel today and surrounded Falwell, who fled into an elevator.
"Stand back. If you come any closer I'll arrest you," a security guard shouted to about five people who charged after Falwell.
"I'm sorry, I have a meeting. This is awful. I've got to go," Falwell said as the doors closed. The elevator car then ascended through the hotel's atrium to the fourth floor.
The protesters, organized by a group called the Association of PTL Partners, had earlier marched in two contingents around the property of Heritage USA, the headquarters of PTL, which stands for Praise the Lord or People That Love. Bakker left PTL in March after a sex scandal.
After their march, the protesters gathered in a parking lot near the Heritage Grand Hotel and chanted anti-Falwell slogans.
Falwell was in the hotel lobby talking with visitors to the Christian theme park when the group turned and surged through the doors.
The protesters pursued Falwell, taking to the stairs and other elevator cars to fill balconies overlooking the atrium.
"Farewell Falwell, farewell Falwell, farewell Falwell," they chanted from the balconies.
Earlier, Falwell and his wife, Macel, drove past the demonstrators at the resort's World Outreach Center. He estimated the crowd at 200 but said he had not seen about 300 others who gathered near the unfinished Towers Hotel.
"I just drove by myself and I noticed about 200 people, which I think is the maximum number of dissidents," he said. "There are over 50,000 people on these grounds, or will be before the day is over, to celebrate America. I consider, with 200 dissidents, that's a very positive statement."
Earlier in the day, representatives of both sides warned of what might happen during the march.
"We have given them guidelines and if they choose to cross those guidelines then they will meet with our police," said PTL singer Doug Oldham, once a Bakker loyalist but now a Falwell ally. "If we have to, we'll bring in outside police," Oldham said. "We have security people and we have fire trucks and hoses, but I hope it doesn't come to that."
There were no arrests.