‘Sigh of relief’ for churches after police capture Jakubowski

Anti-religious manifesto spurred fear of attacks
‘Sigh of relief’ for churches after police capture Jakubowski

Friday’s capture of Janesville fugitive Joseph Jakubowski , accused of burglarizing a gun shop and sending police on a 10-day-long manhunt, ended a week of tension for area churches.

Jakubowski’s manifesto featured anti-religious content and police stepped up patrols around churches across southern Wisconsin fearing the “armed and dangerous” Jakubowski could target religious services in a mass shooting.

The arrest, occurring on Good Friday, led to a “sigh of relief” among church leaders and parishioners.

“We can rest much easier,” the Rev. Will Jewson, pastor at Asbury United Methodist Church in Janesville, said. “As Christians, we live with a lot of hope, we live with a lot of love. We’re just happy that everything resolved itself peacefully.”

Jewson said many people in his congregation feared going to Sunday services while Jakubowski remained on the run; some didn’t attend at all.

“Some just chose to stay home because they didn’t want to take the chance,” Jewson said. “The fear was throughout the community.”

It was much the same story at Janesville’s First Lutheran Church.

“(On) Palm Sunday, a lot of parents didn’t want to bring their kids to church and we respected that,” Jim Melvin, the church’s pastor, said.

First Lutheran parishioner John Fronczak said he was concerned that Jakubowski may have targeted churches on Easter had he not been captured.

“I was really worried about going to church, especially on Sunday, Easter,” Fronczak said. “I can feel really relaxed (now), like a big ton of bricks came off my chest.”

Melvin said the timing of the arrest was appropriate, coming just before Easter Sunday.

“It’s a time when we celebrate new life and the Resurrection,” he said. “It feels like there’s new life for our community right now.”

Jakubowski’s arrest now provides the community an opportunity to reflect and be thankful, Melvin said.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to pray and give thanks that nothing serious happened,” Melvin said. “I know that a lot of people are probably angry at the perpetrator, but we have to pray for him too.”

Melvin and Jewson thanked police for keeping an eye on their churches during Sunday services.

While neither pastor cancelled church, a Sun Prairie church did last Sunday, following a report that a man matching Jakubowski’s description entered the church and asked suspicious questions.

That man turned out not to be Jakubowski.