CHANTILLY, Va. — A pastor in Virginia was stabbed on Saturday by an attendee of his church who began making “incoherent statements” before attacking the minister as he led a class for those seeking to be members, baptized, or just to strengthen their faith. The Fairfax County police chief was attending the class and helped to restrain the assailant.
At approximately 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sean Clemons, an associate pastor at Grace Covenant Church in Chantilly, was teaching an estimated 20-30 people from the Bible when Chance Harrison, 32, entered the room and made “incoherent statements” as he approached Clemons and then stabbed him with a knife.
Two attendees immediately sprung into action to subdue Harrison, including Ed Roessler, the Fairfax County police chief and a 31-year law enforcement veteran. He was injured in the tussle, as was the other gentleman who sought to protect Clemons.
Clemons was treated at Reston Hospital and released. According to Fox 5 DC, Clemons was welcomed home by other church staff, who conducted a drive-by greeting and brought him dinner.
Brett Fuller, another pastor at the church, told the outlet that some in the church felt there was something “off” about Harrison but were nonetheless surprised by the attack. Harrison was a participant in the church’s singles group.
“Just about everybody I know that I’ve talked with about this was surprised. I mean, completely surprised,” he stated.
“We are in prayer for all the injured,” Fuller also said in a statement. “We are grateful for the courage exhibited that prevented worse from happening. Lastly, we want to thank the broader community for their outpouring of concern and support in this time.”
Harrison is being held in the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond. He has been charged with two counts of aggravated malicious wounding, one count of felony assault on a police officer and one count of misdemeanor assault.
Member Catherine McGuire told WUSA9 that the incident happened in the middle of a class for “[p]eople who are baptized, people who want to become members and people who want to strengthen their faith are offered these classes.”
“They talk about biblical foundations and what the church stands upon,” she explained. “It gives opportunities for people to share their coming to faith or their interests in the gospel.”
Police are continuing to investigate the incident and ask that anyone with information call the Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800, option 2.