Soldier seeks spiritual guidance at Boxford church
BOXFORD, Mass. (WHDH) -- Boxford police say a soldier on his way home to Maine from Fort Drum in New York, got off the highway and approached a church Tuesday morning looking for a bathroom and spiritual support.
“He saw a church was having a difficult time and wanted to speak with someone about his problems,” said Lt. Jim Riter, Boxford police dept.
As parents were picking their toddlers up from a preschool at the church, someone let the man in to use the restroom. He then asked to speak with a minister, who was in a different building.
“He was wrestling with both psychological and spiritual issues. He was sick, he needed medical help,” said Rev. Laura Gronberg, 2nd Congregational Church of Boxford.
When the soldier said he had a gun in his car, the minister dialed 911. The man accepted and got into an ambulance for a mental health evaluation.
However, police say the soldier changed his mind, bolted and ended up in a garage where he startled a homeowner and then ran off again. Police say he reemerged on Kendall Road where they found him and took him into custody without a struggle.
The situation was very disconcerting for some parents, who have seen the images from the D.C. Navy Yard shooting for days now.
“It was hard for me to drop my daughter off today. I think I left in tears,” one mother said.
“I don't think anyone should be allowed into the school that isn't a parent or someone who has permission,” said another woman.
Reverend Gronberg said she was somewhat nervous but never felt that she was really physically in any danger because there were other people in the church office who could have called 911. The man is in the hospital, and the police did follow-up with the army to let them know about the situation.