Fort Worth police said Friday they are not classifying the arrest this week of a heavily armed man at a Unitarian Universalist church as a hate crime.
A church official told the Star-Telegram that man found inside All Peoples Church Unitarian Universalist on Wednesday had been attending services for a few months. Earlier that day, the church discovered he had brutally killed his dog on the property
“We believe this was not an attack on the church’s progressive values, but the actions of a lone disturbed individual,” wrote Dan Sexton, board president of All Peoples Church, in an emailed statement.
Police initially responded to All Peoples Church, formerly known as First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church, at 1959 Sandy Lane in Fort Worth on Wednesday morning after they received a 911 call about a dead dog in a field behind the church, next to its community garden.
A teacher at a private school that operates in the church building found the dog and called police. Officers arrived to find the dog had been cut open and was surrounded by multiple bullet casings and a rifle. A church security camera recorded shots being fired around 3:45 a.m.
Police returned to the church later that afternoon when they received a call about a man inside holding a shotgun and wearing ammo on his chest. He was immediately taken into custody.
The man has since been identified as 27-year-old Roman Collins, police said. Collins is being held in the Tarrant County Jail on charges of terroristic threat, cruelty to a non-livestock animal, and carrying weapons in a place where they are prohibited.
In a statement to the Star-Telegram on Friday, All Peoples Church administrator Karl Thibodeaux wrote that he had found Collins in the doorway to the church’s library. Collins was wearing a tactical vest stuffed with ammunition and a holstered gun. A long gun lay beside him on a table, he said. The administrator said Collins told him he killed the dog, and that he was planning “further carnage.”
The dog was later identified as Collins’ pet, the statement reads.
UPDATED with statement from ALL PEOPLE’S UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CHURCH:
All Peoples Church Unitarian Universalist sent a statement to Dallas Voice regarding the arrest at the church on Wednesday, Aug. 23. The statement stressed that the incident was not an attack on the church because of its progressive values and that police are not investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Roman Collins, the armed man who entered All People’s Church on Wednesday and made threatening statements on Wednesday, Aug. 23, has been attending All People’s Church for the past few months, according to the church’s press release.
Board President Dan Sexton said, “We believe this was not an attack on the church’s progressive values, but the actions of a lone disturbed individual. The Fort Worth Police Department does not consider this a hate crime.”
According to the press release, the incident began Wednesday morning when a dog was found, shot and cut open, in a field behind the church next to the church’s community garden. There was an assault rifle found lying next to the dog. A teacher at a private school, which operates out of the facility, discovered the scene and called Fort Worth police.
Police responded quickly and found nine shell casings at the scene. One of the security cams recorded shots being fired around 3:44 a.m. The police filed the incident as an animal cruelty case.
Around 4:15 p.m., right after the school closed and the church administrator was alone in the building, he heard a person walk in the back door and slip into the library. He went to see who had arrived, assuming it was someone early for Wednesday evening choir practice, the press release said. “That’s when he saw Collins standing just inside the doorway to the library,” the statement noted. “Collins was wearing a tactical vest, stuffed with ammunition, a holstered gun and a rifle lay beside him on the table. The administrator spoke calmly to Collins, who admitted he had killed the dog and that he planned further carnage.
“The administrator told Collins he had to put something in the office, then left the church through a side door and drove to a nearby church member’s house and dialed 911.”
Police “responded quickly,” according to the statement and a found him waiting by the front door with a gun.” Collins then allegedly told police he was waiting for people to arrive.
“Within minutes of the first 911 call, dozens of law enforcement officers descended on the scene from various departments, including Homeland Security,” the press release notes, adding that the dog was identified as Collins’ own dog.
UPDATED with statement from LGBTQ SAVES: