Police in Delaware have arrested a 25-year-old man they claim violently attacked an elderly Catholic priest on Monday with his fists, feet and a bottle of wine.
New Castle County police say their suspect, Joshua August, punched and kicked 74-year-old Rev. William Graney in the stomach and face, then poured wine over him before beating the priest with the bottle. He also reportedly sprayed a can of compressed air into the priest’s mouth.
August has been charged with assault, resisting arrest and criminal mischief for the attack at Wilmington’s Resurrection Parish, the police department announced Tuesday.
Church employees who witnessed the attack said it happened in the priest’s office and that they were able to lure August outside the church and lock him out. August reportedly struck the door multiple times trying to get back inside.
Officers received a call from Resurrection Parish at about 2 p.m. on Monday. The employees pointed out the suspect, who was skating away on a skateboard, and police detained him after a brief struggle.
The parish community is “shocked and saddened” by the assault on their “good, gentle pastor,” Robert Krebs, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, told HuffPost.
Resurrection Parish, a Catholic community with 678 registered families, was founded in 1969. Graney started serving at the parish as an administrator in June 2004 and became the priest in June 2005.
Resurrection Parish’s offices have been closed until further notice, and daily masses at the church have been temporarily canceled, Delaware Online reports.
Krebs said that he doesn’t know if August was associated with the parish. He said Graney was trying to “assist the young man with counseling.”
The priest is in stable condition, Krebs said, and is expected to recover from his injuries.
“We are thankful that Father wasn’t more seriously injured and pray for Father’s quick recovery,” Krebs told HuffPost in an email.
August is being held on more than $52,000 secured bail.