Police: NM man in church stabbing vandalized lodge

Associated Press
A sign and flowers are left by a parishioner at the St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church in Albuquerque Monday, April 29, 2013, a day after a man stabbed several churchgoers Sunday as Mass was ending. Police say four parishioners were injured, including church choir director Adam Alvarez, but none have life-threatening injuries. Lawrence Capener, 24, is charged with three counts with aggravated battery and is being held on $75,000 bail.  (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A man charged with stabbing three people at an Albuquerque Catholic church because he thought a choir leader was a Mason vandalized a Masonic lodge hours before his attack, police said.

Lawrence Capener, 24, told police that he tagged the Sandoval No. 76 Masonic Lodge in Rio Rancho with spray paint on Sunday, authorities said. Police later found red and blue spray paint on signs, outside walls and a door. Investigators said he also left the message, "I hope you guess who I am."

Capener is accused of attacking a choir leader at St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church at the end of Sunday Mass services. At least two others were stabbed in the attack when they tried to stop Capener.

According to a criminal complaint, Capener vaulted over pews and lashed out at choir director Adam Alvarez, who had his back toward him.

The complaint said church flutist Gerald Madrid saw Alvarez being attacked and attempted to "bear hug" Capener to try to stop him. Madrid was then stabbed five times in his back by Capener, authorities said.

Capener later told police that he was "99 percent sure Alvarez was a mason" and that he thought Alvarez was involved in a conspiracy.

Masons are a fraternal group involved in charity and other community activities, but many of their rituals and symbols are secret.

Police said when Capener was arrested Sunday, he still had spray paint on his hands and believe it was likely from the lodge attack.

He is charged with aggravated battery and is being held on $250,000 bail. No attorney is listed for Capener.

The attack on the Albuquerque Westside church remained a mystery with members of St. Jude Thaddeus Catholic Church who said they rarely saw Capener attend services but were aware that his mother is active in the church.

"I never see him that much," said Spanish choir member Richard Aragon. "We have a big church, but I just don't know much about him."

St. Jude Thaddeus' pastor, the Rev. John Daniel, said he knew Capener had recently graduated from community college and had gotten a job but may have been struggling with mental health issues.

Mercedes Reynolds, a next-door neighbor to Capener and his mother, told KOB-TV that Capener recently quit a job because he wasn't allowed to wear a hat to block the sun. But he had recently gotten a job at Wal-Mart, Reynolds said.

"I just think he's had a lot of pressure and it was just too much for him," Reynolds said. "I think the public needs to stop and think that it might be one of their children that does that and they wouldn't like the bad publicity and people talking about them."

Santa Fe Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan is scheduled to visit St. Jude on Wednesday to preside over a confirmation Mass. It will be Sheehan's first public visit to the church since the stabbing.

Since the attack, church officials say, Daniel begins each Mass with special prayers of healing for the victims and community. Daniel will continue the special prayers through the weekend, officials said.


Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at http://twitter.com/russcontreras

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