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‘Miracle’: Pastor credits divine intervention after man pulls gun on him during sermon

todayMay 6, 2024


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(PITTSBURGH) — A Pennsylvania church pastor said it’s a “miracle” he’s alive after an assailant drew a gun on him and pulled the trigger as he was giving a sermon Sunday about the “enemies of God.”

The Rev. Glenn Germany of the Jesus’ Dwelling Place Church in the Pittsburgh suburb of North Braddock told “Good Morning America” that the suspect, who police said lived in a home near the church where officers found a man dead from a gunshot wound, was a stranger to his congregation.

The incident was captured on a livestream video of Germany’s sermon and showed a church deacon, Clarence McCallister, tackling the assailant from behind when the suspect’s silver handgun jammed.

“He pulled the trigger and a miracle of God happened that the gun got jammed. That bullet had a name on it,” Germany told “GMA.”

The suspect, identified by police as 26-year-old Bernard Junior Polite, was arrested at the church after McCallister and Germany disarmed him and other members of the congregation held him until Pennsylvania State Police arrived.

Following the arrest, Allegheny County authorities said investigators went to the suspect’s home and found the body of a 56-year-old man who had been fatally shot. The victim was identified by the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office as Derek Polite.

Authorities have not commented on the relationship between the deceased victim and the suspect.

Bernard Polite allegedly gave a jailhouse confession to Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Adam J. Sikorski, saying he attempted to take Germany’s life, according to a criminal complaint. Polite, according to the complaint, allegedly told the trooper, “God told him to do it.”

The attempted church shooting unfolded around 1 p.m. Sunday as Germany stood in the pulpit giving a sermon.

Germany said he noticed the suspect enter the church and said the man even smiled at him before allegedly approaching the pulpit and aiming the gun directly at the pastor. In the livestream video, Germany is seen darting behind a podium as McCallister sprang into action and tackled the suspect.

“I just jumped up and … pulled his arm down to his side and locked him up,” McCallister told “GMA.”

As the livestream continued, McCallister and Germany were recorded wrestling the gun out of the assailant’s hand.

“I think that was an act of heroism if I’ve ever seen one,” Germany said of McCallister’s actions.

The suspect is facing charges of recklessly endangering another person and aggravated assault. State police are also investigating his connection to a man found fatally shot in the suspect’s North Braddock home, officials said.

Information on Polite’s arraignment and whether he has a legal representative were not immediately available.

In his alleged confession, Polite said he was at home and heard music coming from the church and decided to go inside, according to the criminal complaint. He allegedly told Trooper Sikorski that he attempted to shoot the pastor “so that he could go to jail and clear his mind,” according to the criminal complaint.

ABC News’ Victoria Arancio contributed to this report.

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