“It was nonsensical,” Lt. Shawn Takeuchi told The Washington Post of her threats. “No one can figure out what she was trying to verbalize. There weren’t any direct threats other than, ‘I’m going to blow this place up,’ or something to that effect.”
As some congregants fled, others stayed, trying to subdue the woman.
David Miller, a Navy service member, was among them. He told KABC that as a group of men approached Conkey, she pointed her gun at them — and then at the 10-month-old baby in her arms, telling them not to come any closer.
“After she started pointing the gun at the baby, one of the older gentlemen grabbed it from her,” Miller told the news station, “and then me and a couple of other men tackled her. We got the baby away from her.”
San Diego police say they arrived within two minutes of receiving the 911 call and took Conkey into custody.
Conkey, who was a former intern and digital producer with NBC 7 in San Diego, sent the station an email shortly before the incident, the station reported. “There’s a woman claiming to be the Messiah, saying she was sent to blow up the foundation of the Church — she’s got a gun and a child is involved,” the email said.
Conkey is expected to face charges, including making criminal threats and displaying a handgun in a threatening manner, San Diego police said.
The gun was found to be unloaded, and police said the baby was healthy and unhurt. Conkey also told police she had a 5-year-old daughter, whom police located at a nearby day care. Both children were taken into protective custody to be evaluated by Child Welfare Service, he said. Ultimately, nobody was injured during the incident.
“The peace of God was over the whole church,” pastor Ben Wisan told OnScene TV, adding that congregants who fled outside gathered to pray.
The bizarre episode came hours after suicide bombers in Sri Lanka killed at least 290 people at hotels and churches during Easter services, including several Americans. Sri Lankan officials have not released any motive or any of the identities of those believed to be responsible. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed the horrific attack on “radical terrorists whose sole aim is to threaten peace and security.”
Takeuchi said police believe the incident at Church TsidKenu was an “isolated incident.”
“We don’t believe this was connected to terrorism at all,” he said.