Police: Man threatened to shoot up Baldwin church on Easter

Jose Rodriguez is accused of threatening to shoot worshippers of a Baldwin church on Easter Sunday.

Jose Rodriguez is accused of threatening to shoot worshippers of a Baldwin church on Easter Sunday. (4/17/17)

HEMPSTEAD - A homeless man is accused of threatening to shoot worshippers of a Baldwin church on Easter Sunday.

Parishioners were just finishing their Easter service at Iglesia Despertar Church on Grand Avenue when police say Jose Rodriguez came through the door and approached an usher, asking why the service finished early.

Pastor Wilmer Estupinan and his wife, Clara, say Rodriguez quickly became upset, gestured as if he had a gun and threatened the usher. They started fighting, and Rodriguez left after being told that police were coming.

Estupinan was downstairs when the initial altercation occurred. He says Rodriguez returned to the church, ran downstairs and threatened to shoot him.

The pastor says he spoke to Rodriguez in both English and Spanish, but the suspect only communicated through sign language in court Monday.

His attorney says he is hearing-impaired and has a significant speech deficiency, adding that her client is a devout Christian who attends church three times a week. She maintains that the pastor and usher just could not understand what Rodriguez was trying to tell them.

Rodriguez pleaded not guilty to a number of charges, including making a terroristic threat. He was being held on $20,000 bail.

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