FARGO, N.D. — This was not Gabriel blowing his horn.
A North Dakota man is accused of assaulting three people, including hitting one parishioner with a trumpet, before Sunday’s Mass in downtown Fargo, according to court documents.
Benjamin West, 33, of Fargo, was charged Tuesday with three misdemeanor simple assault charges and a charge of felony attempted simple assault on a peace officer, KVLY reported.
West is accused of attacking Monsignor Joseph Goering and parishioners Loren Bolgrean and Mark Jepperson before a 2 p.m. service at St. Mary’s Cathedral, The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reported.
According to a criminal complaint, West came into the cathedral before the Sunday service, wearing a red cape and blanket as a robe, the newspaper reported. West was also carrying a large book, according to court documents.
“There was people all throughout. I don’t know the number,” Goering told The Forum.
According to court documents, West began to yell and blow his trumpet after entering the sanctuary area of the church. Bolgrean asked West to leave, but West allegedly hit Bolgrean in the face with the trumpet. When Jepperson arrived at the church, West allegedly hit Jepperson in the face with a closed fist.
Goering entered the sanctuary and told West to leave. As the priest walked away, West threw his book at Goering’s head, court documents allege.
It’s not unusual for West to wear strange clothes, Goering told The Forum. The priest had signed an order last month preventing West from coming into the cathedral, but West had been arrested June 28, June 30 and Friday on suspicion of trespassing at the cathedral, the newspaper reported.
Authorities arrived and arrested West, KVLY reported. According to police, while West was handcuffed he kicked backward and hit an officer’s leg and also tried to bite an officer’s hand, the television station reported.
Goering said Tuesday that he and Jepperson are doing fine, although he has not spoken with Bolgrean, The Forum reported.
The church is open to anyone as “a house of God,” Goering told the newspaper, but added that the safety of parishioners was most important. The priest said he wanted West to get help to address any mental health issues he might have.
“He’s one of ours, but we have to have good behavior,” Goering told The Forum.