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Man Accused In Shooting Says Jesus is His Attorney

February 3, 1986

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) _ A 35-year-old man said in court Monday that he shot a minister and a doctor in church ″for not baptizing the people in the name of Jesus Christ″ and he told a judge that Jesus was his lawyer.

Municipal Judge Alan Dishongh told Larry King of North Little Rock to get an attorney before his arraignment Wednesday on two counts of battery in the shootings Sunday at Ward Chapel AME Church.

″Jesus is my boss and he is my lawyer,″ King, an employee of Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., told the judge. ″The Lord’s will shall be done or else he’ll turn the United States of America upside down.″

″I shot them for not baptizing the people in the name of Jesus Christ,″ said King, who was being held in lieu of $50,000 bond.

The Rev. John L. Phillips Jr., 27, the church’s pastor, was shot twice in the back as he walked down the aisle after Sunday’s service, police said. Dr. Worthie R. Springer, 54, of Little Rock, was wounded as he went to the pastor’s aid.

The minister was in critical condition Monday after surgery at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said. The doctor was in satisfactory condition at St. Vincent Infirmary.

Before the shooting, a man rose from a pew, went to the aisle and shouted, ″Why don’t you preach baptism in the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost?″ said the Rev. James J. Brown of Hot Springs, a presiding elder of the African Methodist Church, who gave the sermon Sunday.

Phillips pushed past the man, who pulled a pistol from under his jacket and began firing, Brown said.

The 70 to 100 congregants fell to the floor, hid behind pews or left through a side door, Brown said.

King was captured about an hour later, authorities said.

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