Man Arrested for Pointing Shotgun at Women and Attempting to Enter Predominantly Black Church
AMBRIDGE, Pa. – A man has been taken into custody on assault charges after a witness reported that he pointed a shotgun at two women and tried to enter a predominantly Black church in Ambridge, a small steel town located just outside Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania.
The suspect, identified as 38-year-old Jeffrey Harris, is currently being held in Beaver County jail on $975,000 bail. He is facing charges of aggravated assault and several other counts. Harris, who is white, was arrested without incident a block away from the church. Ambridge police discovered crystal methamphetamine on him, and he made bizarre comments about his family during his transportation to the police station. Additionally, his nearby apartment appeared to be set up for a possible standoff.
Authorities have not found any evidence suggesting that Harris intended to enter the Greater Dominion Church of the Millennium or that he was motivated by racial hatred. As of now, investigators have been unable to question Harris, and there is no information regarding legal representation for him.
In response to the incident, U.S. Representative Chris Delozier, who represents Ambridge, has called for the Justice Department to investigate whether Harris violated any civil rights laws or committed crimes against the church’s congregation. Delozier noted the rise in hate crimes across the country and the impact an armed individual filled with hate can have on a place of worship, referencing the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.
Harris does not have a prior criminal record in Beaver County.
According to court documents, a witness reported Harris, wearing a camouflage vest, pointing a gun at her and another woman outside the Greater Dominion Church before attempting to enter the building. When the police arrived, they found Harris a block away from the church, pointing the shotgun at an officer from the entryway of a closed auto parts business. He was then apprehended by the officers.
Upon searching Harris’s apartment, police discovered a handgun, additional shotgun shells, crystal methamphetamine paraphernalia, and a notebook containing references to “active shooting.” The apartment was also set up with a front door barrier and furniture arranged as if preparing for a possible standoff.
This incident comes just days after a racist attack in Jacksonville, Florida, where a white man targeted and killed three Black individuals before taking his own life.
As the investigation continues, the community remains concerned about the safety of their places of worship. Authorities are working diligently to ensure the well-being of all residents and to address any potential threats or acts of violence.
Download the FOX43 app here.
Original Story at www.fox43.com – 2023-08-31 21:44:00