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Armed man kills dog & threatens to attack LGBTQ+-inclusive church

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A heavily armed man was arrested last week at a progressive, LGBTQ+-inclusive church in Texas after killing a dog and threatening “further carnage.”

In a statement, the church — All Peoples Church Unitarian Universalist in Fort Worth, Texas — said they do not believe their house of worship was targeted for its progressive values.

As the Dallas Voice reported, 26-year-old Roman Collins entered the church around 4:15 p.m. on August 23, shortly after a private school that operates in the building had closed for the day. A church administrator found Collins in the doorway to the church’s library wearing a tactical vest stuffed with ammunition and a holstered gun. A rifle also lay on a table nearby.

According to the church’s statement, Collins told the administrator that he had killed a dog, which had been found shot and cut open on church grounds earlier in the day, and “planned further carnage.” The dog was later identified as Collins’s own. Collins also reportedly “made threatening statements about killing people” to the administrator.

The church administrator calmly left the building and drove to a church member’s house nearby to call 911.

“Within minutes of the first 911 call, dozens of law enforcement officers descended on the scene from various departments, including Homeland Security,” according to the church’s statement. Collins reportedly told police that he was waiting for people to arrive.

According to the Dallas Voice, Collins was arrested and booked on charges of terroristic threat, cruelty to a non-livestock animal, and weapons possession.

As the Dallas Voice noted, All Peoples Church Unitarian Universalist is a prominent progressive presence in its community and supports LGBTQ+ rights. The church has provided meeting space for the Fort Worth chapter of the queer-ally group PFLAG and local LGBTQ+ youth group LGBTQ SAVES.

In a statement, LGBTQ SAVES founder and executive director Sharon Herrera said that the group is taking the incident seriously.

“We are heartbroken that someone has entered our sacred space,” Herrera said. “As an organization, our mission is to save the lives of LGBTQ youth. We are encouraging our supporters and allies to stand alongside us in this moment of possible violence and harm.”

“Violence, the threat of violence, and even language that excludes or dehumanizes our identities gives leverage to individuals that want to end our lives,” Herrera continued. “We need safe physical and emotional spaces to exist. Our youth and our programs cannot continue to live in fear. We will continue to provide safe spaces for LGBTQ youth even under the threat of violence. It’s our right to exist.”

In a statement posted to the church’s website, All Peoples Church Unitarian Universalist said that Collins had been a member of their congregation for several months.

“At All Peoples, we hold a strong belief in the inherent worth and dignity of each person and we publicly affirm LGBTQ people,” the statement read. “We knew this man because he had been attending our congregation for several months. While a fear that this incident might be part of escalating political violence is understandable, we strongly believe that we were not targeted for our progressive values.”

All Peoples Church Unitarian Universalist’s board president Dan Sexton reiterated that belief in a statement to the Dallas Voice.

“We believe this was not an attack on the church’s progressive values, but the actions of a lone disturbed individual,” Sexton said. “The Fort Worth Police Department does not consider this a hate crime.”

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