Rice Paddy

21 01 2008

P-D:

Homeless man attacks 2 with chainsaw in mid-Mo.

NEW BLOOMFIELD, Mo. — Two men were in serious condition this morning after a resident at a homeless shelter attacked them with a chain saw on Saturday.

The Callaway County Sheriff’s Office said Matthew Watkins, 28, was charged with four counts each of first-degree assault and armed criminal action for the attack at the Mid-America Care Center. The homeless shelter, affiliated with New Life Evangelistic Center, is connected with Christian television station KNLJ, run by the Rev. Larry Rice.

Watkins, who originally was from St. Louis, had been staying at the homeless shelter for about two weeks and was taking part in a program that provides residents with on-the-job-training, officials said. The attack occurred as the center was preparing for New Life Evangelistic Center’s Freedom Festival.

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“One of our staff members apparently had a mental breakdown — I guess you could say he went ballistic,” said Tom Branham, an employee of the St. Louis branch who was in New Bloomfield to help with sound for the center’s upcoming Freedom Festival. “First he was running around poking people — he poked a guy in the neck with, I think, a pencil — then he came after people with a chain saw.”

In related news, a very high percentage of St. Louis City’s registered sex offenders reside at the Rice joint near downtown St. Louis.

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