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Priest, parishioner killed at New York church

Jeannette Ayers, a parishioner whose two children are inside the school, reacts outside of Our Lady of Peace Church on Tuesday.  

LYNBROOK, New York (CNN) -- Police stormed a Long Island, New York, house Tuesday and captured a man suspected of killing a priest and a 73-year-old parishioner during a Mass hours earlier.

No one was injured as the officers overpowered the suspect, armed with a small knife, and arrested the man they identified only as a 34-year-old white male.

"Six to eight members of bureau special operations tactical unit hit the front door and this individual was just inside the door," Nassau County Police Inspector Pete Matuza said. "He immediately -- when he saw the officers --- tried to stab one of the officers with a small knife."

Police said the man had holed up inside the house after firing at least six shots with a rifle from the rear of Our Lady of Peace Roman Catholic Church in Lynbrook during the morning Mass.

The man shot and killed the Rev. Lawrence Penzes, 50, during a 9 a.m. EST Mass, police said. An unidentified parishioner attending the ceremony also was shot and killed, they said.

Rev. Lawrence Penzes, known to his congregation as "Father Larry," in this undated photo.  

Police surrounded the house, but waited until shortly after 4 p.m. EST to make the arrest because they wanted to make sure everyone else who lived in the house was out, officials said. The house is about 40 yards from the church

As the gunman fled the church building earlier that day, a parishioner and an off-duty policeman chased him and were able to wrestle the rifle away from him.

Penzes was shot once in the back, police said. He was taken to Mercy Hospital in Rockville Centre, where he did not have any vital signs, police said. Penzes could not be resuscitated and was pronounced dead at 10:06 a.m.

"I think it's very likely he died on the altar," said Dr. Dana Monaco, a physician at the hospital.

The parishioner was shot while sitting in a pew and died at the scene, police said.

There were about 40 people in the church at the time of the shooting.

Penzes had been the pastor at Our Lady of Peace since 1994. He also was an chaplain for the Air Force and the Lynbrook Police Department.




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