CLEVELAND – A Catholic priest was shot at during an apparent attempted robbery outside his Collinwood church Monday night. Cleveland police say three juveniles were arrested in connection with this crime.
Rev. John Kumse, Pastor of St. Mary’s Church on East 155th Street, told police he was doing his evening rounds locking up buildings around 8 p.m. when two teens chased him and fired three gunshots toward him, according to an incident report.
Kumse had finished closing a chicken coop on church property and was holding a carton of eggs when he said he noticed the teens hiding in bushes. As he walked by them, one of the teens said, “Give me the eggs,” according to the report.
“It just came out of the blue,” Kumse said.
They began chasing Kumse across the church parking lot and fired at him three times, including once after he fell down, Kumse said.
“I thought, this is going to be the end,” Kumse said. “I have a very good guardian angel.”
Kumse was not hit but said his shoulder was injured when he fell. The suspects got into a moving minivan that had been parked in a corner of the church lot earlier, according to the report.
Police said the suspects' vehicle was recovered in the 200 block of E. 150th .
Church surveillance video showed the suspects walking by the chicken coop when they appeared to notice Kumse was there. They are then seen backtracking toward the bushes. The video showed them then chasing Kumse and the muzzle flash from one of the gunshots.
Video also showed two girls running toward the minivan as the shooting was occurring, according to the report.
The owner of a nearby convenience store told investigators two girls between the ages of 8 and 10 entered his shop minutes before the shooting happened, according to the report. It states one of them asked the owner to use his phone, but appeared to be pretending to call her father as a stall tactic.
Kumse told police a message was written on a dirty window of a car parked next to the van that indicated the incident may have been gang-related, according to the report.
A police spokesperson said investigators have some leads in the case but have not yet made any arrests.
“This was something extremely random. It's not something that's common down in this area,” Kumse said, adding that he has not had problems with crime at the church in the past.
“I've been here 30 years; we've never had trouble. This has been a very peaceful neighborhood.”