In a truly amazing story, Jesse Gates, 38, was restrained by churchgoers in Boiling Springs, South Carolina, who disrupted mass by barging into church with a shotgun during Sunday services. Gates, a sad and dangerous figure with a criminal history, said he just wanted to be heard, according to his sister, who allegedly drove him to the church and provided him with the weapon. It is miraculous that nobody was hurt during the incident.
Jesse attended the church as recently as Wednesday, according to the local press report. Aaron Guyton, 26, is the pastor's grandson, and one of the heroes of the day, as he spotted Gates getting a shotgun from the trunk of his car and knew he had to act. His goal was to keep Gates from getting into the church so he ran and locked the doors. Aaron's quick thinking from the beginning may have saved lives.
Pastor Guyton was preaching to his congregation "about how Jesus spoke the word of God and healed the sick" when Gates managed to kick in the door to the church, pointing his shotgun at the pastor and the congregation. He told the pastor to get out of the pulpit three times according to Rev. Guyton's wife, Joyce, who was terrified, of course.
In the meantime, the grandson got his gun (he is a concealed weapons permit holder) and held Gates at gunpoint. He later said that it was the first time he ever had to draw his gun on someone. Other congregants and fellow heroes, Jesse Smith and Leland Powers, held him on the floor and waited for deputies to arrive. The pastor took the shotgun from Gates and asked why he would do such a thing. Gates responded, "They took my children and won't let me see them." Later, Gates said that his plan was to kidnap the pastor, but of course that plan was thwarted by the quick thinking churchgoers. It is incredible what people are capable of doing if they work together!
It turns out that Jesse Gates is no stranger to crime. His criminal history includes "numerous convictions for burglary, grand larceny and forgery. He is a convicted felon and prohibited from having a gun or ammunition." The pastor holds no ill will for gates. "I pray for him," Rev. Guyton said. "He's lost. We just hope he gets straightened out." The pastor and his congregation are heroes and the pastor's compassion for this lost soul, Jesse Gates, is an inspiration.