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"church carjacked" Discussed on Today in True Crime
"They claimed neither of the men in question had any traffic tickets and refused to negotiate. Now, authorities were unsure of how to proceed, but they feared escalating the situation animosity between the police and the church had been building for years. The Christ Miracle Healing Center in Church boasted around three hundred members totaling nearly two thirds of Miracle Valley's population. Since arriving in nineteen seventy, nine from Chicago members of the all black church clashed with the nearly all white community of Miracle Valley. The congregation wanted to preach their fundamentalist Christian teachings in peace. But outsiders derided them as a cult because of their strict beliefs and distrust of modern medicine. Then, in nineteen eighty tensions increased when the group began an armed security patrol in the community to ward off theft and vandalism. The action sparked fear in many Miracle Valley residents and made even some local authorities nervous some worried become too militant and non-members felt intimidated by the patrols presence. Then on April Twentieth Nineteen, eighty, two, six months before the standoff twenty or so members of Church got into a confrontation at the local high school after a church member was arrested for assaulting a female bystander the before the on campus scuffles soon, morphed into a massive brawl when authorities arrived to break up the fighting members of the Church carjacked nearby witnesses and fled into the blazing Arizona Desert. Authorities gave chase but were unable to apprehend the suspects before they made it back to the compound. The only way the men were finally caught was through the intervention of the state's governor Bruce Babbitt who personally reached out to Thomas for cooperation. Eventually, three members of the church were given prison sentences. By. That point trust between the community and the group had all but vanished. So when authorities tried to enter the compound on the morning of October twenty, third nineteen, eighty two to attempt to serve the arrest warrants a second time they were at their wit's end deputies nervously discussed the best course of action outside the compound thirty five officers from several different agencies and over a dozen cars waited on standby. Authorities were intent on avoiding any further escalation? The agencies reached a consensus to let one squad car just before dawn to apprehend the suspects in question they hoped that by that point, tensions might have deflated enough for a safe environment. According to authorities the morning of October twenty third, a single patrol car slowly entered the compound to deputies exited the vehicle and proceeded to go door to door looking for their suspects. As they walked to their next address, a car rolled up and angry church members filed out. Each of them carried improvised weapons, including Tire Irons, clubs, and wrenches. The group immediately surrounded the officer and berated them. It only took a few moments for things to spin out of control authorities claimed the members jeered at the officers and became aggressive even a few swings at them when they ran back to their squad car as the officers retreated, they radioed in for backup. Police. Warmed the compound while over a hundred members of the church came out of their houses to join in the conflict there was pushing and shoving punches were thrown and people were knocked to the ground in the commotion bystanders. saw. William Thomas Junior Pastor Francis Thomas son unload several long barrelled weapons from a nearby car moments. Later, the bullets started lighting. Up next members fall and the aftermath of the shootout. 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That's friends without the our best fiends. Now back to the story. On October twenty, third nineteen, eighty, two members of a local fundamentalist church in miracle. Valley Arizona engaged in a shootout with local authorities. Bystanders saw Pastor, Thomas's son William Thomas Junior reach into his car and pull out several rifles moments later gunfire erupted at the sound of the gunshots many of the church members screamed and fled the scene. But the fight was far from over it appeared that Thomas ran into the fray with one of the weapons and approached forty-five-year-old Sheriff's Deputy Race Thatcher according to the deputy Thomas pointed his weapon in their direction in that split second bachelor fired four rounds each striking Thomas. Moments later Thomas was dead on the ground in the Fray Thatcher said another church member fifty, two year old gus tate went to pick up the weapon fearing for his life Thatcher fired and additional four at tate. died instantly. People on both sides panicked moments after the to church members were killed authorities retreated. By the time the attack was over dozens of people were injured including seven deputies. Deputy Jeffrey Carl Brown suffered a bruised after being struck by Five Foot Long Pipe William Thomas Junior, and gust tate lay dead in the dirt. Hundreds of bullet casings littered the ground those left behind screamed while others cried most believed that the worst was over but to keep everyone safe.