SAN DIEGO — A woman with a gun in one hand and her 10-month-old baby in the other held a California church at gunpoint and threatened to blow up the church during Easter Sunday service.
The incident was captured on surveillance video released by police on Friday.
Pastor Ben Weisen stayed incredibly calm during the chaos.
“I want all you guys to just get down and pray, just get down and pray,” Weisen said as Anna Conkey continued to shout in the back. “I want the ushers to stand up get people out, just get people outside, don’t worry.”
Conkey, 31, is a former intern and freelance digital producer for NBC San Diego, according to the station, which reported she was also in the U.S. Navy, according to NBC News.
She sat in shackles as she relived those moments in court and Weisen shared his side of the story.
“She said you don’t know what it means to be willing to die. She had a baby and a gun and we had a pretty good feeling that she was going to get shot and maybe some of our people were going to get shot,” Weisen said.
Thinking fast to prevent panic, Weisen told the congregation the gun was a taser.
“I thought first I’m pretty sure that’s a real gun and then I thought, OK there’s something that looks like a laser and I know this would keep people a lot calmer so I’m just gonna say it’s a taser out loud,” he said.
Weisen even tried to protect Conkey from getting hurt.
Anna you gotta put that down the police are coming in really hot and they don’t know it’s a taser you gotta put it down right now,” Weisen said.
Conkey had also allegedly threatened to blow up the church at one point, calling the police on herself.
Police later determined the weapon was not loaded.
The baby and the suspect’s 5-year-old daughter, who was discovered at a different location after the incident, were taken into protective custody, according to NBC News.
She had sent her former employer an email news tip five minutes before entering the church, according to NBC San Diego.
“There’s a woman claiming to be the Messiah, saying she was sent to blow up the foundation of the Church — she’s got a gun and a child is involved. The address is 4350 Mount Everest Blvd San Diego, CA 92117. There are about 70 people in the auditorium of the school where the church service is held,” the email read.
Weisen said Conkey had disrupted services weeks before the incident.
He said he tried to set up a meeting with her but it didn’t happen.
Conkey pleaded not guilty to several felony counts including child abuse, making criminal threats and a false report of a bomb.
A judge will determine if the case will go to trial.