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Woman waving handgun, carrying baby, threatens to blow up church during Easter service, police say

Lyndsay Winkley, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in News & Features

SAN DIEGO -- A woman who walked into a San Diego Easter service carrying a baby with her left arm and waving a gun with her right was tackled by parishioners after threatening to blow up the church, police and witnesses said.

The sermon was just wrapping up when the armed woman appeared on the church stage about noon, said Brother Ben Wisan, the founding pastor of Church TsidKenu. The church holds its services at Mount Everest Academy, a school in the Clairemont neighborhood.

Wisan told the congregation of about 100 to get outside and "start praying," but several church members stayed to try and talk to the woman, he said.

"We're a big Holy Spirit church, so the peace of God was over the whole church," he told a reporter with OnScene TV.

David Miller, a Navy man, said he was one of several people who stayed inside to try and defuse the situation safely. Miller told OnScene TV the woman was making "crazy comments" about teaching people how to suffer and that there was a need for people to become martyrs.

He said as the church members started to slowly approach her, she pointed her gun at several parishioners and then her own baby, telling them not to come any closer.

 

That's when the group, including Miller, tackled the woman, first getting the child to safety and then wresting the gun from her hand, he said.

When police arrived minutes later, the woman tried to escape, Miller said. One officer tackled her through a row of chairs and she was taken into custody. She was later identified as Anna Conkey, 31, and was booked into jail on suspicion of making criminal threats and displaying a handgun in a threatening manner.

No one was injured during the incident. Because Conkey threatened to blow up the building where the church held its service, officers with bomb detection canines swept the facility and her vehicle. Nothing dangerous was located.

Wisan, the pastor, said investigators later told him Conkey's gun wasn't loaded. He said church members knew the woman and that she had attended services in the past. San Diego police Lt. Christian Sharp said officers are investigating whether Conkey was involved in an incident at the same church about a week ago.

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