A waitress at a Seguin, Texas, restaurant possibly averted a mass shooting at a church after she reported an armed man behaving suspiciously to police. The man later allegedly told officers he was headed to a church to “fulfill a prophecy.”
Brianna Jimenez, a waitress at Las Mañanitas Mexican Restaurant saw a man entering the local eatery wearing a mask and sunglasses on Sunday morning. She greeted the man and he proceeded to the restroom. She told reporters he stayed in the restroom for a long time, but she didn’t think much about it at the time, according to KTRK ABC13.
Seguin is located east of San Antonio on Interstate 10.
Jimenez noted the man, later identified as 33-year-old Tony Albert from Houston, was wearing a backpack, brown pants, a surgical mask, and sunglasses.
When he exited the restroom, Jimenez said she got a weird feeling about him.
“(Albert) was looking at me and he was saying something about, ‘Do you know where the nearest church is at?'” she told reporters. She pointed to the Door Christian Fellowship Church across the street.
Albert responded, “I’ve been to that church many years ago,” she said. She then asked her mother for directions to a Baptist church which she provided. Albert then allegedly asked Jimenez to take him tot he church. She declined — stating she had to work. She then noticed that Albert was armed with a pistol.
“He’s gripping it, like, he has his finger on the trigger,” Jimenez said.
Albert then exited the restaurant and Jimenez quickly locked the door and asked her mother to call the police. KTRK reported that no customers were in the establishment at the time. Jiminez and her family took cover and waited for police to arrive.
Seguin Police Department Spokeswoman Tanya Brown told reporters that an off-duty officer found Albert some distance away. He told the officer he was on his way to a church to “fulfill a prophecy.”
The officer ran the man’s record and discovered his previous felony convictions from Houston. He arrested the man for possession of a small amount of marijuana and for being a felon in possession of a handgun. He is now in the Guadalupe County jail on a $100,000 bond, officials reported.
Police said they are grateful to the Jiminez family for reporting the suspicious behavior. “(Albert) could have carried out a shooting, or he was capable of doing that, because he had a loaded handgun,” Brown stated.
Jiminez said she didn’t really think about the possible consequences until later. “Now that I think about it, he could’ve taken a trip to any church and — a lot of people leave in body bags,” she explained. “That kind of hurts me, like, what if? You know what I mean? What if that really happened?”
Court records from Harris County District Clerk Chris Daniel’s website reveal Albert’s criminal history dating back to 1995. In October 2016, Albert attempted to take a handgun away from a Houston Police Department officer by force. The criminal complaint stated that Albert intended to harm the officer or himself. He received deferred adjudication on the charge and probation. Several months later, a Harris County Court found Albert guilty of assaulting a family member. He received a “time served” sentence and was released, court records indicated.
The felony conviction and the domestic violence assault would bar Albert from legally purchasing or possessing a firearm.
His other criminal records include an arrest for allegedly resisting arrest in 2016 and 2017 and a DUI in 2009.
In a court filing, Albert stated he is associated with Messianic Judaism (a religious movement that combines Judaism and Christianity) and the First Church of Cannabis. He said the latter is a “private and secretive one” stating that the members seek to “separate ourselves from recreational cannabis users who continue to pervert the usage of our sacrament,” the San Antonio Express-News reported.
In addition to the Seguin Police Department, Texas Rangers, the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives are investigating the incident.