Louisiana pastor Tony Spell has been charged with aggravated assault, local news outlets reported.
Spell is accused of backing a church bus in the direction of a man who was protesting his church on Sunday.
Police previously charged Spell with six misdemeanors after he refused to stop holding in-person church services despite stay-at-home orders put in place to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Louisiana pastor Tony Spell, who repeatedly defied state orders to hold in-person services, has been charged with aggravated assault after an incident in which police say he drove a bus toward a person protesting his evangelical church.
Spell, of Life Tabernacle Church in the city of Central, near Baton Rouge, turned himself in to police on Tuesday and was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, NBC News reported.
Police say Spell backed a bus toward a man, identified by WAFB9 as Trey Bennett, who was protesting church services at Life Tabernacle on Tuesday.
A video of the incident shows the bus coming into very close proximity to Bennett.
Spell told WAFB he just wanted to get out of the bus and "confront the protester," but his wife convinced him not to.
"That man has been in front of my church driveway for three weeks now. He shoots people obscene finger gestures and shouts vulgarities," Spell told WAFB.
Bennett told WAFB that he never used profanity or obscene gesture and that he holds signs as he protests. One of those signed read "CAUTION: Coronavirus incubator. Do not enter. You may die."
Police previously charged Spell with six misdemeanors when he refused to stop in-person services despite stay-at-home orders due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
While many churches have transitioned to live-streamed services to protect parishioners from COVID-19, Spell told Insider on April 1 that he doesn't like such services because he can't "lay hands" on his parishioners as he can in person.
"I cannot baptize people in a livestream. I can not lay hands on people in a livestream. I cannot pray for people in a livestream, and this is our biblical command — to lay hands on the sick and when they recover baptize them by immersion in water, which we do every day," Spell told Insider.
According to The Advocate, one of Spell's congregants has died, and a lawyer hired to represent the church has been hospitalized after both tested positive for COVID-19. While it's unknown where they caught the virus, Spell claimed the coroner's determination that the congregant died from coronavirus was "a lie."
Central police chief Roger Corcoran told NBC News that authorities aren't denying Spell's freedom to practice religion.
"They're trying to make a mockery of this, like he's some kind of victim," Corcoran said. "No one, not one person, is trying to stop him from preaching the word."
According to WAFB, there's a second warrant for someone else who tried to swerve their truck onto a protester standing in the road.
Read the original article on Insider