Houston church threatened by gunman at Sunday service

By Lea Wilson - Digital News Editor , Keith Garvin - Anchor/Reporter

HOUSTON - A 20-year-old Houston man is in jail after investigators say he used a pistol to threaten church members worshipping in the 5th Ward.

Officers charged Keanu Randolph with carrying a weapon after a disturbance at the Greater Sunrise Missionary Baptist Church on Bringhurst Street near Highway 59 and Liberty Road.

A church deacon, who didn't want his name to be used, was one of the first people to confront Randolph after he was asked to leave church Sunday for cursing and being disrespectful to the pastor.

Witnesses said he pulled out the gun while standing on the street after he was forced to leave.

"He really could have gone off at any time and we have a lot of elders there," the deacon said. "There was kids there. Someone really could've gotten hurt."

The deacon called 911 and followed Randolph in a truck for several blocks until police arrived.

Officers ordered Randolph to put his hands up and he refused and ran, police said. 

Officers eventually caught Randolph, took him into custody and searched a backpack he was carrying. Officers found a stolen loaded gun and 9-inch knife inside, police said. 

WATCH: Keanu Randolph appears in probable cause court

Police said that while Randolph was being arrested, he threatened the deacon and his family.

"When I get out, I'm going to kill you, rape your wife and hurt your girl," Randolph said, according to police. "I know where you live across (from) the church."

Police said Randolph made racist and threatening remarks toward the arresting officer and his partner saying, "I (expletive) hate white people. I will kill you when I get out cracker (expletive). All white people should die. (Expletive) you."

In light of high-profile church shootings -- including the shooting in Sutherland Springs a few weeks ago in which a gunman killed 26 people -- this church's pastor is considering new security measures, including the arming of his staff.

"I'm thinking of that," pastor John Horton said. "I hate to do it, but something has got to happen."

Police also charged Randolph with evading arrest and retaliation.

A judge on Monday ordered Randolph to stay away from the church and to have no contact with the victim.

He is in Harris County Jail on a $7,000 bond.

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