San Diego, CA – A woman carrying a baby and waving a handgun was tackled by churchgoers after she burst into their Easter Sunday service and threatened to blow up the building.
The incident occurred at Church Tsidkenu’s non-denominational celebration in the Mt. Everest Academy auditorium at approximately 12 p.m., WGHP reported.
The woman, later identified as 31-year-old Anna Conkey, interrupted the service and walked up onto the stage of the auditorium where she “made threats that she was going to blow up the church,” according to a San Diego Police Department (SDPD) press release.
“She was saying stuff that was kind of delusional,” witness Ronald Farmer told WGHP. “I was more worried about getting my family out of there.”
Witness David Michael Miller said that church leaders tried to calm Conkey down, but that she pointed the gun at the baby and the parishioners, KSWB reported.
Members of the congregation managed to wrestle the infant out of the woman’s arms, and pried the gun out of her hands. They then tackled her to the ground, San Diego Police Officer Dino Delimitros explained.
San Diego police were on the scene within two minutes of receiving the first 911 call, and took the woman into custody.
She has been charged with displaying a handgun in a threatening manner and making criminal threats, police said.
Investigators later located the woman’s five-year-old daughter at a daycare center in Bonita, and she was placed into protective custody along with the 10-month-old little boy, according to KSWB.
A bomb-sniffing dog did not find any signs of explosives inside the building or the suspect’s car, and police said the gun she was brandishing was not loaded, WGHP reported.
Just hours before the harrowing incident, a series of suicide bombings at churches and hotels in Sri Lanka left nearly 300 people dead and over 500 more injured, according to The New York Times.
“At this time, there is nothing to indicate a connection to San Diego. However, in an abundance of caution, you will see extra patrols at houses of worship,” San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit tweeted.
Conkey previously attended Church Tsidkenu, but had left after some negative interactions with other members, pastor Benjamin Wisan told Heavy.
Members of the congregation have called the police about Conkey during prior encounters, Wisan said.
Conkey, a freelance journalist who previously worked KPBS and NBC, posted several videos about her religious beliefs to her Facebook page.
In a video on April 15, she told viewers that she had gone to the church to deliver a message that had been given to her by God, but that the congregation refused to listen to her and called the police.
“I didn’t do anything,” she said in the video, according to Heavy. “I guess when I said that God told me I’m his messenger, and an apostle, and a prophet, and according to the Bible, the apostle has more power than the teacher… I was sent there for a reason.”
The former U.S. Navy mass communication specialist said she is on a “spiritual journey” and that she has been “experiencing the rapture” since January, Heavy reported.
Approximately five minutes before she stormed into the church, Conkey sent an email to a media outlet she had worked for, and told them that the church was going to be attacked, the International Business Times reported.
Conkey did not disclose the identity of the attacker.
“There’s a woman claiming to be the Messiah, saying she was sent to blow up the foundation of the Church – she’s got a gun and a child is involved,” the email read. “There are about 70 people in the auditorium of the school where the church service is held.”