Parishioners of the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in the town of Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, are mourning the death of Re. Stephen Guttsell, a priest in the community who was slain during a break-in at the church early on Sunday morning.
In a statement about the incident posted to Facebook, Sheriff Mike Robinson of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office described what series of events led to Re. Guttsell’s slaying and how the law enforcement authorities responded to the heinous killing.
Sheriff Robinson said, “At approximately 0505 hours on the morning of December 10, 2023, Washington County 911 Center received a call of an attempted break in at the St. John’s Catholic Church rectory in Fort Calhoun. Deputies arrived at the scene in 6 minutes and located a black male inside theresidence and Father Stephen Guttsel suffering from injuries sustained from an assault. Father Guttsel was transported to UNMC by the Fort Calhoun Rescue where he later died from his injuries. The black male suspect was taken into custody and transported to the Washington County correctional facility. This is an ongoing investigation, and the name of the suspect or manner of death will not be released. No further information will be released at this time. There may be an updated press release later today.”
In an update that followed shortly afterward, Sheriff Robinson added, “Kierre L. Williams, 43 years of age from Sioux City IA has been arrested for Homicide and use of a weapon to commit a felony. Father Guttsel was stabbed during the assault and died from his wounds. All further media releases will be from the Washington County Attorney’s Office.”
Riley Johnson, the director of communications for the Archdiocese of Omaha, released a statement on the matter as well, saying, “The Archdiocese of Omaha is praying for Father Stephen Gutgsell, who was assaulted during an invasion at the rectory of St. John the Baptist parish in Fort Calhoun early Sunday morning. Father Gutgsell was transported to Nebraska Medicine in Omaha, where he died of his injuries.”
Continuing, the archdiocese’s statement then added that the sheriff’s office is investigating and asked parishioners to pray for Rev. Guttsell, saying, “The Washington County Sheriff’s Office is investigating, and there are no further details at this time. Please join Archbishop George Lucas in prayer for the repose of Father Gutgsell, for his family and for the St. John the Baptist parish community in this tragic time.”
Speaking to KETV about REv. Guttsell’s slaying, parishioner Rosemary Therkildsen said, “It’s very difficult to believe that he’s not going to be in there when we walk in there today. Father’s just been a wonderful person. I’ve gone to a lot of Bible studies with him. He was just a brilliant man.” Another parishioner, Kelly Tegels, said, “It’s going to be hard. I’m bringing flowers tonight because he always had this altar decorated with flowers, and I know he would appreciate it.”
Featured image credit: Archdiocese of Omaha
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