Rasheed Abdul Aziz walked into a Texas church Sunday afternoon dressed in camouflage pants, tactical vest, boots and a camouflage helmet. A pistol rested in his waistband.
He would later proclaim that he was on a mission from Allah, witnesses said.
As Aziz entered the Corinth Missionary Baptist Church in Bullard, Texas, around 1 p.m., he asked a deacon where he could find the pastor, the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported. He just wanted to see him for prayer, he told the deacon. Although the morning’s worship service was long over, the church was still bustling with people: children played in the fellowship hall, church members planning an upcoming fall fest, and Pastor John Johnson III sitting in the conference room working with his teenage son.
“Every hair on my neck just stood up,” Johnson said of the moment Aziz walked into the conference room. “It was almost like you could just like feel the presence of just negative energy.”
According to the Morning Telegraph, Aziz almost immediately became irate, ranting that he was a “man of Islam” who had demons chasing him and was instructed to “slay the infidels” and kill any Christian or Jew who did not abide by the teachings of Islam.
“He said people are going to die today, that’s what he said to me,” Johnson told KLTV-TV.
But Johnson, 45, remained calm and asked the man what he could do for him as he stepped between him and the door to the rest of the church. Besides being the pastor of Corinth Missionary Baptist, Johnson works full-time with troubled youth as a student services intervention specialist at a nearby school. He’s also a former parole officer and has been trained in crisis prevention, verbal de-escalation and working with mentally ill offenders.
So Johnson told the man to sit down and offered to pray for him and get him a cool drink. He said he needed to take care of the children quickly — his excuse to step out into the hall to alert his wife and another church member that Aziz had a gun.
“Immediately my mind went to the fact that I knew we had several children and young members that were playing and running in the fellowship hall. I mouthed to them, ‘This man has a weapon, I need you guys to go,’” Johnson told KLTV.
Read more: The Blaze