Incident at St. Ed's church in Palm Beach raises issue of security

St. Edward Catholic Church parishioners were rattled during last Sunday's service when a man walked up the center aisle yelling and causing a disturbance. The man, later identified by police as Kieran Michael O'Brien, 50, of West Palm Beach, continued walking up the aisle after Monsignor Thomas J.

Klinzing asked him to leave, according to a police report. A group of men grabbed O'Brien and escorted him out of the church. Police were called and responded, at 12:10 p.m.

Klinzing did not want to prosecute O'Brien, he said. Officers issued a written warning to O'Brien, the report said, and warned him he'll be trespassing if he returns. Klinzing told officers O'Brien was "screaming and yelling his name and date of birth" and "yelling that he owns the land."

O'Brien told police he was denied membership in the church and wanted to ask the monsignor why. Town Council President Danielle Moore, who was at the service with her young children, said during Tuesday's council meeting that everyone was startled and frightened. "It scared the living daylights out of me," Moore said. "It reminded me of how precious life can be.

I want to thank [Acting Police Chief] Ann-Marie Taylor and her team for their rapid response." Mayor Gail Coniglio, who also was at the service, said the church was packed with parents and children there for First Holy Communion. "It was a traumatic event for the children," Coniglio said. "That is what was most disturbing."

In the aftermath of the gun massacres at a Charleston church, Orlando nightclub and a Parkland high school, police have stepped up their presence at all the town's houses of worship, Coniglio said. "We should all be grateful for that very proactive response to protect the community." Taylor wouldn't discuss details, but she confirmed the department has "strengthened our relationship with all houses of worship in town." The church, meanwhile, is looking at ways to tighten its security, including the possibility of hiring private security or off-duty police officers, said Klinzing, who met with police Friday.

Klinzing said he does not believe O'Brien is a threat to the congregation. O'Brien was in his office a few days earlier and caused a scene about being denied membership, Klinzing said. He was told that the parishes are divided territorially and that St.

Edward members must live on the island.

"I told him he was more than welcome to worship there, he just couldn't register," Klinzing said.

Now the offer to worship is withdrawn. "It's just a sad incident," he said.


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