James Maxie, 28, was arrested by police after he allegedly attacked a pastor after his sermon in a western Ohio church, according to the Associated Press.
Maxie, a self-described militant Atheist with a criminal past, faces charges of felonious assault and misdemeanor resisting arrest after the incident took place Sunday at The Bridge Community Church, 105 N. Main St., in North Hampton.
North Hampton police say the Rev. Norman Hayes suffered a broken nose, bruises and three long cuts on his face.
Police Chief Jarrod Campbell said he’s hardly ever come across “an incident this brutal” in his 11 years with the department.
The Dayton Daily News reports that Hayes, 57, was beaten after the pastor asked the man’s girlfriend if she felt safe.
“I questioned his girlfriend in his presence if she felt safe,” Hayes said. “He was very, very upset that I’d even suggest that he would hurt her. Then he turned around and hurt me very badly.”
Hayes said the 28-year-old Maxie was argumentative and confrontational during the service.
“It looked like he was looking for an argument,” Hayes said.
Maxie and the girlfriend, who attends the church, went up to Hayes after the service. She told police that Hayes asked her if Maxie was hurting her. Then he became angry, attacking the pastor several times in the face in the church hallway.
“He came from nowhere and hit me ... and knocked me down, and then he got on top of me and just kept hitting me over and over,” Hayes said. He begged for the beating to stop because he was afraid for his life.
“It was fortunate he did stop,” Hayes said. “I really believe my life was in danger if he hadn't stopped hitting me in the face over and over.”
Maxie was booked in the Clark County Jail, which did not list an attorney for him, according to Dayton Daily News.