A man wearing tactical-style clothing and carrying a loaded firearm and extra ammunition who said he was on his way to a Texas church to “fulfill a prophecy” was arrested Sunday morning, officials said.
The man, identified by police as Tony D. Albert, 33, of Houston, was taken into custody in Seguin, Texas, a city about 35 miles east of San Antonio. He did not say which church he planned to go to, Officer Tanya Brown of the Seguin Police Department said.
It was still dark outside when Albert, who was wearing sunglasses, stopped at Las Mañanitas restaurant at about 6:30 a.m. A worker there, Brianna Jimenez, 18, went to greet him but he waved her off and he went into the restroom for close to 30 minutes, she said.
“I totally forgot he was in there,” Jimenez said Sunday. When Albert, who was carrying a backpack, left the restroom, he turned to Jimenez.
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“He asks me, ‘Do you know where the nearest Baptist church is at?’” Jimenez said.
Jimenez and her mother pointed him toward a church down the road. Albert told Jimenez that he had been to that church many years ago and asked for the next nearest one. Jimenez’s mother gave him directions.
“He was looking for a church with a fountain in the back,” Jimenez said. “It kind of seemed like he was on a mission to go to that church.”
Her mother, Gabriela Jimenez, said he came out of the restroom wearing a white or baby blue surgical mask that covered his mouth. That grabbed her attention.
Then she saw the gun.
“He had it in his hand the whole time,” Gabriela Jimenez said. “The way he was standing he had it in his right hand and you could not see it until he turned around to walk away.”
Albert did not do anything to alarm her before she saw the gun, she said. “He seemed calm. He did not give us any attitude,” Gabriela Jimenez said.
Albert asked Brianna Jimenez for a ride to the second church twice, and twice she declined. When he turned to leave the restaurant, he was gripping his gun, she said.
Once he was outside, Brianna Jimenez motioned to a friend who was closer to the door to lock it. Everyone hid in the kitchen while Gabriela Jimenez called the police. An off-duty officer was the first to arrive and “observed an oddly dressed male wearing tactical-style clothing,” the Police Department said on its Facebook page.
Albert was taken to the Guadalupe County Jail and booked on charges of possession of marijuana and felon in possession of a firearm, Brown said. Albert told the authorities he was headed to a church to “fulfill a prophecy,” officials said.
“I do not have any indication that he’s known to have mental illness,” David Willborn, the county prosecutor, said in an email. “His behavior indicates that there is certainly cause for concern regarding his mental health.”
He said he suggested that Albert face additional charges. Albert will not be arraigned until a grand jury hears his case in January.
“The Seguin Police Department is extremely grateful to the citizen who called the police,” Brown said on Facebook. “If this subject was not stopped and apprehended the results could have ended differently.”
In October, a gunman entered the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh and killed 11 people inside the synagogue, police said. And in 2017, a gunman killed 26 people and wounded 20 more after he opened fire during a Sunday service at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.