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Dec 30, 2004

Bullet drops into church during mass

Story PictureIt was a bizarre and frightening incident. There they were, parishioners attending midnight mass on Christmas Eve. But then an uninvited guest, a bullet, threatened the lives of worshippers as they sat in the pews. News 5′s Patrick Jones has more.

Rev?d Noel Leslie, Parish Priest, St. Ignatius
?A few minutes before midnight while I was celebrating mass I heard a loud noise and I looked up to try and see what it was or to observe what was happening and of course I did see some of the people near the entrance of the church looking up toward the ceiling. So I realize that something was wrong.?

Patrick Jones Reporting
The St. Ignatius Church at the corner of Euphrates Avenue and Basra Street was packed with worshippers attending midnight mass on Christmas Eve, when the service was interrupted by something that fell from the sky. Parish priest Father Noel Leslie says the object was not heaven sent.

Rev?d Noel Leslie
?They told me that a bullet head came through the roof. So I asked to see it and was shown to me and I asked if anybody got hurt or hit by it. And they mentioned that yes there was one lady who got a slight graze from it, a very light graze because there was not much pain or anything of that nature.?

The bullet left a hole the size of a quarter in the roof and many questions in the minds of the priest and congregation of this church as to why a bullet almost caused serious damage or even death on one of the most joyous days in the Christian calendar. But Leslie does not believe that anyone intentionally targeted his congregation.

Rev?d Noel Leslie
?I would say that many times we hear things fall on the school roof or the house roof of the church roof, sometimes stones and things of that nature, someone throws a stone from somewhere. But it?s the first time that we have had an incident of this nature which was not a very good one. You know I believe that somebody was shooting up in the air and failed to realize that what goes up will come down, and unfortunately it landed it landed on our church roof and came through the roof and through the ceiling itself. I?m glad that the roof and the ceiling itself lessened the impact of it because it could have been something terrible if that had really hit somebody in the head or it had come down with a terrible force.?

Patrick Jones
? So you don?t believe that somebody intentionally shot into your congregation??

Rev?d Noel Leslie
?I don?t believe so. If that had happened the impact would have been much more intense, would have been greater. From what I see it came through the roof and it came with an impact but not a very intense impact from a direct shot. So I believe it was just some revellers out there having a good time and not realizing that what goes up will come down. And will come down with a force.?

And with a similar midnight mass coming up on Friday to usher in the New Year, Leslie is appealing to gun toting revellers to think before they pull the trigger.

Rev?d Noel Leslie
?Well I tell you as the head of the church here I was not very happy about it because I realize the danger of it and what could have happened as a result of it. And I would just like to speak to our people at this time to simply say not do that kind of thing because there can be serous consequences to such actions. So I pray that our young men or whoever would think about having a good time at new years time would really consider shooting up in the air again.?

Patrick Jones, for News 5.

Sources News 5 spoke with say people are in the habit of setting off firecrackers and firing guns at the same time to try and mask the sound.

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