(St. Joseph News Press) – A threat to kill a priest at a local church landed a Texas man in jail.
The state charged Hugh M. Rossell, 56, with making a terroristic threat by allegedly threatening to shoot a priest at the Cathedral of St. Joseph.
The charge carries a possible sentence of two to seven years in prison and/or up to a $5,000 fine.
According to court records, Rossell attended a Mass at the Cathedral on Thursday, April 21.
Students from Cathedral School, along with staff and a Buchanan County deputy sheriff who has a child attending the school, were together attending the Mass.
At no time did he approach the students, said Mary Burgess, the school principal.
Parishioners noticed him carrying a red lunch box and wandering around the church nave as a priest and lay leaders conducted the services, which isn’t normal, stated Richard Woodley, a St. Joseph Police Department detective.
The school had previously reported a bomb threat.
A parishioner noticed Rossell going to a bathroom with his red box and asked the principal to check because of the bomb threat.
When Cathedral Elementary School Principal Burgess approached Rossellt, before she could say anything, Rossell allegedly became verbally aggressive. As he was escorted out of the Cathedral, he allegedly shouted a desire to shoot a priest.
Rossell had on the previous two days been at the school asking for money. The request was refused and he allegedly yelled at the school secretary and was verbally abusive.
Burgess told the News-Press at no time during the prior occasions were any students in danger and parents were notified about the incidents.
“The St. Joseph Police Department has been amazing,” Burgess said.
She lauded the director of the School Resource Officer program, Jill Voltmer.
“She’s been our guardian angel,” Burges said. “Her priority is to make sure children are safe.”
Associate Circuit Judge Rebecca Spencer ruled the defendant to be a danger to the community and denied bond.
The defendant is scheduled to be arraigned at 9 a.m. Tuesday, April 26 before Associate Circuit Judge Keith Marquart.