Published November 17, 2014
A South Florida pastor is speaking out after police were forced to fire on a knife-wielding man at his church.
"He was very aggressive," said Luther Memorial Lutheran Church Pastor James Congee. "We have odd things that happen, but not like that."
Pastor Congee has been pastor at the church for nearly a decade and a pastor for more than 30 years and said he has never witnessed a church day like Wednesday's.
"I heard a commotion outside and the janitor came running into the room, and behind him was this fellow with a knife. He was right on top of him," said the Pastor.
Congee was having bible study when the knife-wielding man stormed a room with a dozen church members inside. "The janitor came running into the room and behind him was this fellow with a knife. The fellow with the knife got caught in the door," he said. "I pushed him out and got the door closed."
The 911 call captured the drama as it unfolded:
Caller: "My name is Louis. We need help at the Luther Memorial Lutheran Church, 1925 N. State Road 7."
911 Operator: "OK, what happened at the church?"
Caller: "He tried to stab me."
Congee said the incident was shocking and unusual. "He said he wanted to get some coffee and I said, 'Well, go and make some coffee,'" Congee recalled. "So I pushed him out, and then I used a cellphone to call police."
Police quickly arrived on scene to find Johnathan Shae, 24, threatening the pastor and parishioners.
"For the safety of himself and others around, an officer had no choice but to discharge his weapon," said Hollywood Police Lieutenant Norris Redding.
The officer fired one shot at Shae. He was wounded and crews transported him to Memorial Regional Hospital, where he is listed in stable condition in the Intensive Care Unit.
Members are now coping with the incident. "I'm just concerned about the people in the room, everybody, and there were senior citizens and pretty nervous about the whole thing," said Congee. "With all the yelling and screaming that was going on. There's obviously something wrong with the guy."
Police said the suspect has a history of mental illness and faces multiple felony counts. Congee said, "I'm not surprised about that because his behavior was bizarre."
The officer who fired his gun has been identified as Sergeant Luis Ortiz. He is a 20-year veteran with the Hollywood Police Department.