Local churches on high alert following gun store robbery, armed man at large

Local churches on high alert following gun store robbery, armed man at large

Investigators are still trying to find Joseph Jakubowski, who robbed a Janesville gun shop and mailed a 161-page manifesto to President Donald Trump last week.

In that manifesto, law enforcement officials say Jakubowski included anti-religious remarks, prompting local churches to remain on high alert during their Palm Sunday services.

In Madison, members of the First United Methodist Church didn’t let fear take away their sense of peace.

“Palm Sunday is a remembrance of when Jesus went into Jerusalem on a donkey, because he was going in to proclaim that peace is a better answer,” said Bobbie Foutch-Reynolds, a volunteer at the church.

After Palm Sunday services, the congregation took its message of peace and marched through Madison’s downtown streets.

Local churches, including those in Janesville and Sun Prairie, saw a heavy police presence while the search for Jakubowski continued. Foutch-Reynolds said the feeling of being threatened is something Christians have dealt with for many years.

“Even though it has settled down and it’s not as prevalent as it was, there are still times when people don’t like who we are and wish to make a statement,” Foutch-Reynolds said.

Lead pastor Mark Fowler said the congregation was concerned Sunday over another anti-religious statement.

“It’s tragic what happened in Janesville, but it’s also tragic what happened in Egypt this morning, where there were two Christian churches that were bombed,” Fowler said.

He said the local and global incidents will only make Christians stronger in faith.

“There is a place of courage that comes for Christians that that message of peace and of hope and that all of God’s children being together will not be overcome by fear. That really is the message of power in the world is the message of fear and we reject that ultimately,” Fowler said.