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OREM — Instead of reaching for his Bible, an Orem minister grabbed his handgun when a man high on drugs tried breaking into his church.
It is never a good idea to break into a house of worship, especially when the pastor's career before he was in the ministry was in law enforcement. But the man on drugs obviously didn't realize that until he was looking right at the laser sights of the pastor's handgun.
"It's a little different being a Baptist in Orem — where I'm from, it was a Baptist church on every street corner," said Pastor Robert Brooks.
Brooks moved to Utah from North Carolina three years ago to lead the Victory Baptist Church in Orem.
"We've enjoyed it. We've had a very good experience," he said. "For the most part, people have received us really well and we've enjoyed being able to minister here to the people."
In the middle of the night on Friday, though, Pastor Brooks, who lives with his young family in the basement of the church, was awakened by a ruckus outside, so he got up to see what was going on.
"He was at this door trying to beat into it and pull on it, and I came around the corner (and) was standing down there in the parking lot addressing him," Brooks said.
But Austin Stokes would not respond to the pastor's commands to stop, so Brooks pulled his gun.
He is welcome here anytime. We would love to minister to him.
"The only thing I actually heard him say — when he saw the laser — was ‘Oh, no,' and then he began to comply," Brooks said. "I didn't know what he was, I didn't know what he was capable of doing and I knew with family downstairs, I wanted to keep them safe."
Orem police arrived within a couple of minutes and Stokes was taken to jail on charges of intoxication and dealing prescription drugs. Pastors Brooks says he has forgiven Stokes for the frightening situation he caused his family.
"He's safe, he can get some help now, and hopefully he will get the help he needs because of his addiction, and I am glad we didn't have to use any force," he said. "He is welcome here anytime. We would love to minister to him."
Pastor Brooks says he didn't bring up the incident during his sermon on Sunday, but again said he welcomes the suspect or anyone else having difficulty in their life, to join with him here.