NORTH HAMPTON, Ohio – A western Ohio pastor says he feared for his life as he begged a man to stop beating him in an attack in his church after Sunday service.
Police in North Hampton, near Springfield, said the Rev. Norman Hayes suffered a broken nose, bruises and three long cuts on his face that required stitches. Hayes, 57, was beaten at Bridge Community Church by a self-described atheist after the pastor asked the man’s girlfriend if she felt safe, the Dayton Daily News (http://bit.ly/19YogUx) reported.
“He was very, very upset that I’d even suggest that he would hurt her,” said Hayes, who said the man had been very argumentative and confrontational during his service. The pastor said the man then hit him “and knocked me down, then he got on top of me and just kept hitting me over and over.”
He kept telling the man to stop, saying he believed he was going to kill him. Finally, Hayes said, the attacker and his girlfriend ran away into a cornfield as police responded. After a search, police said they found James Maxie, 28, hiding behind a nearby home.
Maxie, of Springfield, was charged with felonious assault and misdemeanor resisting arrest. He was being held in the Clark County Jail on Tuesday. No attorney was listed for him.
Police Chief Jarrod Campbell said he’d never seen such a brutal attack in his police work, let alone in a church.
“Churches are somewhere where people go to worship their particular religion, and violence is usually the last thing you see,” Campbell said.
A judge granted Hayes a protective order to keep Maxie away. The pastor said he hopes the man will be able to find “new hope and some answers for his life,” but that he should have to pay for what he has done and be kept somewhere for a while where he can’t hurt anyone else.