A Rhode Island man is recovering from surgery after he was shot by Massachusetts officers who say he suddenly opened fire at them as they responded to a report of a man with a possible gun at a church.
Forty-one-year-old Eric Lindsey faces multiple charges following Monday's incident, including two counts of firearm-armed assault to murder, four counts of attempted assault and battery with a firearm and four counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, according to the Bristol district attorney's office.
The Conventry resident was taken to Rhode Island Hospital after being shot by officers responding to the scene at a church property on Newport Avenue.
Both officers, described as "rookies" by Attleboro Chief Kyle Heagney, had responded to a call from Assembly of God Church about a possibly armed man in the place of worship, according to officials.
The officers, whose names have not been released, found a man who matched the description given to them about a mile from the church. The man then suddenly opened fire, police say.
In response, police say the officers returned fire. One officer had to dive out of his moving cruiser to avoid being struck by the bullets.
Both officers were distraught and although neither were physically injured, they were taken to a hospital for evaluation. At least one bullet hole could be seen on the cruiser at the scene.
"I want to tell you how proud I am of these officers," Heagney said. "It's shocking when you see those rounds in the headrest, going through windshields."
Both officers were said to be resting at home by 11 a.m., according to officials.
"The officers obviously experienced a very traumatic event, just really emotional for them," Heagney said.
"By the grace of God, the officers were not seriously injured or killed," Bristol District Attorney Thomas Quinn said in a statement. "This case highlights the dangers officers face on a daily basis while responding to calls. I commend them for their professionalism in their response to a most dangerous and potentially fatal situation."
Church administrators say the suspect was able to gain entry to the sanctuary because it was somehow left unlocked. The pastor was dropping off his wife at work at the church's daycare when he saw the gunman in the foyer of the sanctuary.
He was able to talk down the armed man before he fled the scene. Church administrators say they are grateful their pastor was unharmed.
The immediate area was closed off during the on-scene investigation. The church is also home to a school and year-round daycare. School was not in session, but the daycare was under a soft lockdown through the end of the day.
Members of the community where the shooting happened remain on edge.
"It is very upsetting that anyone would be pushed to this point, to do such things. But again, no one was threatened. No one was harmed. And we pray for the family of this individual that they get the help that they need," Jason Detty, a church administrator, said.
Dayspring Christian Academy, which is located on the same property as Assembly of God Church, released a statement Monday afternoon confirming that all students and staff are safe because the incident happened before anyone had arrived.
The investigation is ongoing.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article identified Jason Detty as a pastor at Assembly of God Church; he's a church administrator.