A Houston man is in custody after authorities said he was armed and on his way to a nearby church to carry out “a prophecy.”
Police arrested Tony Dwayne Albert, 33, in Seguin, Texas, about 40 miles northeast of San Antonio, just before 7 a.m. Sunday after a woman called to report a man wielding a gun and wearing tactical-style clothing, ABC News reported. Albert was also reportedly sporting a construction-type face mask and sunglasses.
Responding officers said the “oddly dressed” man claimed he was en route to a nearby church when he was apprehended, Seguin Police Department officials said.
“An SPD officer, who was off-duty at the time, was the first on the scene and observed an oddly dressed male wearing tactical style clothing, a surgical face shield, carrying a loaded firearm and extra ammunition,” Tanya Brown, a department spokeswoman, said in a statement Sunday. “During the investigation, officers revealed that 33-year-old Tony Albert was allegedly en-route to unidentified church to fulfill what he called a prophecy.”
Albert was arrested and booked into the Guadalupe County Jail for marijuana possession and being a felon in possession of a firearm, court documents show. This wasn’t his first brush with the law, however.
Records show Albert has been arrested at least six times in Harris County on various charges since 2009 and was charged with assaulting a family member in 2017.
Citing a court filing, ABC 13 reported, “Albert wrote that he is associated with Messianic Judaism, which is a modern religious movement that combines Christianity with elements of Judaism. Additionally, he stated he is a part of the First Church of Cannabis, a religious organization that maintains marijuana is a healing plant.”
Shortly before his arrest Sunday on morning, Brianna Jimenez, a waitress at the Las Mañanitas Mexican restaurant, said Albert walked into the family-owned business and asked for directions to the nearest church.
“He was looking at me and he was saying something about, ‘Do you know where the nearest church is at?’ ” Jimenez told local station KSAT, saying the exchange “weirded her out.” “And he said Baptist church.”
Jimenez said she pointed out the Door Christian Fellowship Church, which is located directly next to the restaurant, but Albert replied, “I’ve been to that church many years ago. … Do you know where the other Baptist church is at?’”
Jimenez then asked her mother, who owns the restaurant, if she knew where other Baptist churches in the area were and her mother gave Albert directions. Jimenez said Albert then proceeded to ask if she would drive him there, but she declined.
“When he slowly walks away, that’s when I finally see he has a weapon, and he’s gripping it, like, he has his finger on the trigger,” she recalled.
Once Albert was out of the restaurant, Jimenez ordered employees to quietly lock the doors and take cover while her mother dialed police. The young woman has since been hailed as a hero for listening to her gut instinct and urging her mom to report the man’s suspicious behavior
“Now that I think about it, he could’ve taken a trip to any church and — a lot of people [could’ve left] in body bags,” Jimenez told the station. “That kinda hurts me, like, what if? You know what I mean? What if that really happened?”
In a statement, an SPD spokesperson said they were “extremely grateful” for Jimenez’s quick thinking because “(Albert) could have carried out a shooting … because he had a loaded handgun.”
Albert is currently being held on $100,000 bond, according to online records. Authorities are still working to determine his intentions, namely if he was headed to commit a mass shooting.
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