BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) - Birmingham police responded to a reported stabbing at the Church of the Reconciler at 112 14th Street North Sunday morning.
The church released a statement saying two men got into an altercation before the worship service.
"Two gentleman were involved in a non-verbal altercation (at least one of the gentleman has a speech impairment) that escalated quickly, and led to the cutting of one of those individuals with a knife or sharp weapon," according to Rev. Matt Lacey, Senior Pastor, Church of the Reconciler.
One person left on a stretcher earlier and one person was cuffed and put in the back of a patrol car.
The injured person was treated and transported by Birmingham Fire and Rescue personnel, presumably taken to an area hospital.
A man who says he witnessed the incident says the altercation started in the kitchen where people were getting breakfast and that one man cut another man's throat with a box cutter.
"The guy that cut the other guy's throat, he was in there arguing with one of the workers in the kitchen and the guy in the kitchen kept telling him to leave and then there was another one that he was arguing with," said Paul Cash.
Cash says the suspect and the victim are both unable to speak and both clients of the ministry. "They said he was bleeding, but not profusely so I don't believe he cut his jugular vein, but he was bleeding pretty badly, but not as bad as it would have been so it is believed that he's going to make it," said Cash.
He described the scene as terrifying.
"Everybody stayed back because nobody else wanted to get cut. He was kind of swinging it around and then he just put it down and went in the sanctuary and started messing with his baggage and then the police officer came in and he was resisting the police officer so the police officer had to spray him with pepper spray, "said Cash.
The church provides meals for people in need and has a continual outreach program to homeless people on the streets of Birmingham. Cash says this incident won't keep him from returning.
"Without places like this I think there'd be a lot more crime and stuff because this gives people at least a way to get food in their stomach and you know that's one less thing that they also don't have to worry about," said Cash. "We're just praying for both of them because you know it's a bad situation."
"The police and paramedics were immediately called, all volunteers and staff handled the situation very well. While we regret the incident and will be in prayer for all parties, we know that being in ministry with the homeless and those on the margins will sometimes entail incidents, often much less violent, than this. We ask for our partner churches and supporters to be in prayer for us, the two gentlemen in the incident, and the community we are in ministry with," said Rev. Lacey.
At press time police had not released the names of those involved or any information about possible criminal charges. Updates on the conditon of the victim were also unavailable.
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