Man charged with firing shots at church

KANSAS CITY (AP) — A man charged with firing two shots inside a southern Missouri church told authorities he was trying to force the congregation and pastor to tell the truth about a previous disturbance that ended with him undergoing a mental health evaluation, according to court documents released Monday.

Earnest Smith, 48, of Hartville, was charged in Wright County with first-degree assault, discharging a firearm into a habitable structure, unlawful use of a weapon, making a terrorist threat and armed criminal action. He is jailed on $250,000 bond.

Online court records don’t list an attorney for him.

Witnesses said Smith walked into the First Baptist Church in the small town of Norwood on Sunday morning and fired two shots before churchgoers tackled him. One of the men who subdued him suffered a minor arm injury during the struggle. No one else was hurt.

“It sure could have been bad,” Wright County Sheriff Glenn Adler said.

About 40 people were at the church at the time, he said.

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