A man reportedly stole a hearse containing a casket that was about to be brought into a Los Angeles church for a service.
At around 11 a.m. on Saturday, preparations were underway for the services of 19-year-old Jonte Lee Reed, and the funeral director had reportedly left the hearse containing Reed's body idle while he arranged flowers inside of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. When he returned outside to bring in the casket, the hearse was gone.
Panicked, the funeral director enlisted others in the ministry to help track down the stolen hearse. He immediately notified the family, who had been en route to the service when the theft occurred. According to KTLA, witnesses already at the church said they saw an older man climb in the drivers seat and drive away.
Family members soon noticed a hearse pass them about four blocks from the church, and forced the man to pull over and get out. According to Shirley Little, wife of the church's pastor Kenneth Little, they exchanged heated words with him before police arrived and arrested him.
The man, who police suspect is mentally ill, will likely be charged with auto theft. Authorities said they would also further evaluate his mental condition.
Little told reporters that despite the incident, the service was only a half hour late and went as planned. "Even with all of that occurring, the service for this gentleman was only 30 minutes late and it was nice," Little said. Reed's body was reportedly untouched.
Little also said that in the church's 75-year history, there had never been an incident like this before, calling it "one for the history books."