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Utica church deals with aftermath of mass disruption

Church officials are discussing safety precautions following an incident that took place over the weekend at Our Lady of Lourdes church in Utica.

Posted: Jan. 9, 2019 10:48 PM
Updated: Jan. 10, 2019 9:24 AM

UTICA, N.Y. – Church officials are discussing safety precautions following an incident that took place over the weekend at Our Lady of Lourdes church in Utica.

That disruption led to the arrest of a Utica man. Sixty-two-year-old Harry Brown of Utica is charged with disrupting a religious service for his erratic behavior he displayed just before the church's mass service on Saturday. Pastor Joseph Salerno says the congregation is on high alert after what he says could have been a dangerous situation.

"So many people were attentive and have been attentive since the incident,” Salerno said. “Not only to what we need to do to keep people safe but many are asking the question, how do we take care of the people in our midst who are hurting so greatly.”
Salerno says Brown's behavior could be a part of a larger issue.

"My heart goes out to him,” said Salerno. “Obviously, he was in pain and in distress. His problems are bigger than life for him but I’m concerned not only about him, but about many others in our community who experience the same pain and difficulty in their lives and whose needs are not being taken care of adequately."

Salerno says Brown came into the church very assertive and angry. He says although it was scary, the incident will not stop the congregation from having future gatherings.

"I think we'll be doing some things different,” Salerno said. “What these things are, I’m looking at three areas. How could we prevent anything from happening, how do we handle a crisis, and then how do we advocate for those that are mentally ill."

Salerno does not want to make their safety changes public in order for the precautions to be effective.

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