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Fayetteville pastor convinces church gunman to give up rifle


A man with a semi-automatic assault rifle walked into a downtown Fayetteville church during a New Year’s Eve prayer service.

The church’s pastor is City Councilman Larry Wright.

The incident at Heal the Land Outreach Ministries, off Campbell Avenue, ended peacefully, although many of the 60 members in attendance were startled, and at least one person — a pregnant woman — slipped out of the service.

Wright said he was able to calm the armed stranger, take away his weapon and then pray for him before Fayetteville police officers arrived.

Someone had seen a man anxiously pacing outside before the man with the rifle entered at about 11:40 p.m. as Wright was delivering the sermon.

The man then said to the audience that the Lord had told him he needed to go to church before he did something bad.

The church is at 414 Hall St., six blocks from the Market House downtown.

Wright said the man, who has not been identified by police yet, was carrying the rifle without a clip in one hand and a loaded ammunition clip in the other hand. But, Wright said, he didn’t know if the rifle had a round of ammunition in it.

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