An Easter service at an auditorium in San Diego took a horrifying turn for churchgoers after police say a woman walked into the room with her 10-month-old baby and a gun, but a Navy sailor from New Hampshire is being lauded for saving the day.
Anna Conkey, 31, was arrested after the April 22 incident. She allegedly walked into the auditorium of the Mount Everest Academy, where the nono-denominational Tsidkenu Church was having Easter service. She allegedly waved her gun and threatened to blow up the church.
Police said Conkey told the congregation, "everyone is going to die."
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"She was saying that Jesus and Satan was the same person and that everyone was going to hell," said David Miller, a religious programs specialist at the church and a native of Salem, New Hampshire.
Miller, a member of the U.S. Navy, said the pastor told the congregation to stand up and leave the auditorium.
"I'm in the back, and I'm kind of thinking, like, 'How can I defuse the situation? Is there anything I can do?'" he recalled.
Miller says when he and several others began approaching Conkey, she became more agitated, pointing the gun at the crowd, and then at her baby.
A churchgoer tried to grab the gun.
"That's when I saw the chance," Miller said. "I ran out to her and tackled her. Another guy tackled her the same time I did, and a third guy grabbed the baby."
Police arrested Conkey. Her children — the 10-month-old and a 5-year-old who was not present during the incident — were taken into protective custody.
The Navy announced that Miller had been awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for his service.
"I'm glad I was able to do something," Miller said in a statement, according to the Navy. "It was just lucky that everything ended up orchestrated the way it did."
Conkey pleaded not guilty to eight felony charges, including possession of a firearm in a school zone, three counts of making a criminal threats, attempting to make a criminal threat, child abuse, resisting an executive officer, and making a false report of a bomb threat to an agency or business.
She also pleaded not guilty to one misdemeanor count of disturbing a religious meeting.
The judge issued a protective order saying Conkey could not interact with her two children, the pastor of the church where the event allegedly happened, and that she could not come near Mount Everest Academy.
Conkey is currently being held at the Las Colinas Detention Facility on $1 million bail.
Prosecutors said the gun, which was registered to Conkey under her maiden name, was not loaded, but ammunition was discovered by police at her home in Bonita.
Conkey is facing more than 23 years in prison.
Conkey is a former intern and freelance digital producer for NBC 7. She is also an SDSU graduate and was in the U.S Navy.
Conkey is scheduled to be back in court on May 3.