A Texas man is facing charges after an unhinged attack on a Catholic church and some people who had remained there to pray after Mass. At least one victim of the Oct. 10 incident inside historic St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in San Antonio believes the attack was definitely based on religious animosity.
Derrick Wolford, 33, is charged with felony injury to the elderly in the rampage. According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Wolford claimed “voices” told him to assault Catholics and destroy Catholic property.
A 61-year-old churchgoer who preferred not to give his name gave an account of the attack, saying it began shortly after noon mass at St. Joseph’s when people who had stayed behind to pray heard a commotion near the church’s entrance. A man had barged in and started yelling, he said.
The witness said there was a violent tone to what he was saying, and that the ranting was about being a prophet, a federal agent, and accusing the Catholic Church of idolatry.
Other witnesses say Wolford headed for the altar and broke a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the floor.
The witness said he was knocked into a pew, and that Wolford proceeded to step on the Our Lady of Guadalupe statue’s face.
The arrest warrant states that Wolford then walked over to an 81-year-old man who was sitting in one of the pews and punched him in the face. Days later, the elderly victim told police he was still in pain and shaken up by what happened.
Cellphone video recorded by the witness on the day of the attack shows police detaining Wolford near the Alamo. The witness had been following the attacker, who realized he was being followed and attacked, knocking the witness down and kicking him.
Police said Wolford kept kicking until some passers-by jumped in to stop the assault.