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

San Diego Union Tribune logo San Diego Union Tribune 4/22/2019 By Lyndsay Winkley, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Mt. Everest Academy, San Diego, Calif. © 2019 HERE/Microsoft Mt. Everest Academy, San Diego, Calif. SAN DIEGO — A woman who walked into an Easter service in Clairemont carrying a 10-month-old baby and waving a gun was tackled by parishioners after threatening to blow up the church, police and witnesses said.

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

Wisan told the congregation 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 OnScene TV.

David Miller, a Navy man, said he was one of several people who stayed inside to see if they could diffuse 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 people 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.

Wisan, the pastor, said investigators later told him the gun was unloaded. He said church members knew the woman and that she had attended services in the past.

Police Lt. Christian Sharp said officers are investigating whether Conkey was involved in an incident at the same church about a week ago. Officers with bomb detection canines swept the facility and Conkey’s vehicle, and nothing dangerous was located.

“It sounds like there might be some mental illness issues that we’re looking into,” Sharp told OnScene TV.

The woman’s baby was taken into protective custody, the lieutenant said. Police also located a second child, a 5-year-old daughter, healthy and unharmed. She was also taken into protective custody.

On Saturday night, San Diego police Chief Dave Nisleit said on Twitter that extra officers would be patrolling houses of worship as a precaution. The announcement came after explosions went off at Sri Lankan churches and hotels on Easter Sunday in a terrorist attack that killed hundreds.

There’s nothing to indicate the incident at the Clairemont church and the attacks in Sri Lanka were related.

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©2019 The San Diego Union-Tribune

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