ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A 24-year-old man who authorities say stabbed three people at an Albuquerque Catholic church because he thought a choir leader was a Mason has been indicted on an attempted murder charge, the Bernalillo County attorney’s office announced Tuesday.
A grand jury also charged Lawrence Capener with aggravated assault and three counts of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, the office said.
According to a criminal complaint, Capener stabbed a choir leader at St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church at the end of Sunday Mass on April 28.
Capener vaulted over pews and lashed out at choir director Adam Alvarez, who had his back toward Capener, the complaint said. Church flutist Gerald Madrid saw Alvarez being attacked and attempted to “bear hug” Capener to try to stop him, the complaint said. Madrid was then stabbed five times in his back, authorities said.
Capener later told police that he was “99 percent sure Alvarez was a mason” and that he thought Alvarez was involved in a conspiracy.
Masons are a fraternal group involved in charity and other community activities, but many of their rituals and symbols are secret.
Another man was stabbed in the attack, police said. All three are expected to recover.
The attack in the church sparked churchgoers into action as a number of members tackled Capener and held him until police arrived, authorities said.
“They need to get here soon because we have other people coming around and starting to attack the offender,” a caller told a 911 operator, according to the audio recordings released this week.
Police said Capener also admitted vandalizing a nearby Masonic lodge with spray paint.
Prosecutors said Capener will appear at the Bernalillo County Courthouse for arraignment, but no date has been set.
If convicted, Capener could face up to nine years in prison. He was being held on $250,000 bail.
Court records do not list an attorney for Capener.