Local News

Brothers stop gun-wielding cousin from entering church

Posted February 24, 2010 4:57 p.m. EST
Updated February 24, 2010 6:36 p.m. EST

— Two brothers are being hailed as heroes in Louisburg after they stopped a man with a gun from entering a church last weekend.

James White had been asked to leave St. Delight United Church of Christ, on U.S. Highway 401 south of Louisburg, on Saturday morning after acting inappropriately, according to his cousin, Michael White.

A short time later, when as many as 30 people were inside the church feeding needy residents, James White returned with a rifle.

"He made a statement, 'Stop me from coming in my church now. Stop me from coming in now,'" said Michael White, who was outside the church at the time.

"Upon doing so, he started to raise the rifle," he said. "I didn't think. (There was) not much time to think. I knew that, once he got the gun into a full crest, he would be in total control."

Michael White's brother, Steven White, saw him grab the barrel of the rifle and begin struggling with their cousin. He then joined the fray.

"I didn't think about fear or anything else. All I thought about is what might have had happened if we didn't get that gun up out of his hand," Steven White said.

The brothers wrestled James White to the ground and pulled the rifle from his hands. One shot was fired in the struggle, but no one was hit.

Franklin County Sheriff Pat Green said James White had enough ammunition to shoot a dozen people.

Church members said the brothers' quick action was nothing short of heroic.

James White, 52, of 190 George Leonard Road in Louisburg, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. He was being held Wednesday at Central Prison under a $75,000 bond.

Green said James White has a mental illness and was combative when he was taken to jail.

"I don't know what his intentions were – how far he would have gone. I just don't know. I can't get into his head," said Michael White, who added that he hopes his cousin will get the help he needs.