A priest in New Jersey is facing charges after police said he pointed a functioning Civil War-style musket at an 8-year-old boy in the rectory of his church.
Father Kevin Carter, the pastor of St. Margaret of Cortona, a Catholic church in Little Ferry, was arrested on Friday, the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office said in a press release. The charges stem from a September 13 incident.
“The victim and several family members arrived at the church for Sunday services. Prior to the mass beginning, Father Kevin Carter asked to see him in one of the rectory rooms,” Prosecutor John Molinelli said. “Once in the room, Father Carter had the victim stand against a wall. He then retrieved a long gun from nearby and pointed it at the child with an indication that he would shoot him. This was witnessed by several individuals that were standing outside of the room.”
Carter, 54, was released after posting $15,000 bail by the Little Ferry Police. He was expected to celebrate mass at his parish on Sunday, NorthJersey.com reported.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Carter May Have Pointed the Gun at the Boy Because He Is a Cowboys Fan
Father Kevin Carter, who is a devout New York Giants fan, may have pointed the gun at the boy as part of a joke gone abd about his team’s fierce rivalry with the boy’s favorite team, the Dallas Cowboys. The two teams were scheduled to play each other later that night (the Giants would end up losing a heart-breaking game).
“The young boy was apparently a fan of a particular football team, the priest was not. So perhaps we have indication it started out as that,” said Prosecutor John Molinelli told NBC New York.
2. He Faces Aggravated Assault & Child Endangerment Charges
The incident was reported to the Archdiocese of Newark by a parishioner of St. Margaret of Cortona on Friday, September 25, several days after the incident. The archdiocese told the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office about the allegation on Monday, September 28. The Special Victims Unit of the prosecutor’s office and the Little Ferry Police Department then launched a joint investigation.
Police interviewed Carter on October 2 at the church’s rectory. Detectives found the gun, ammunition and associated items for the gun, the prosecutor’s office said. He was then arrested.
Carter was charged with 4th-degree aggravated assault by pointing a firearm and third-degree endangering the welfare of a child.
Molinelli said that there should be no special treatment for Carter.
“The young victim was frightened from the incident and we need to treat Carter as any other person under the same circumstances,” he told NorthJersey.com.
3. He Defended His Actions as a ‘Good-Natured Exchange’ That Was Misinterpreted
Father Carter was expected to read a statement on Sunday during mass about the incident, according to NorthJersey.com.
“There were a number of people present on the day of good-natured jesting, between me, a Giants fan as is well known, and a Cowboy fan,” the statement reads in part. “Unfortunately, it seems, that one person misinterpreted the good-natured exchange.”
Prosecutor John Molinelli told NBC New York, “There’s no such thing as joking around with a weapon when you’re dealing with an 8-year-old kid.”
Molinelli said Carter raised the gun at the boy and said “I’m going to shoot you.”
4. Carter Was Ordained in 1986 & Has Been at St. Margaret Since 2013
Father Kevin Carter was ordained in 1986 and has been at St. Margaret of Cordona since 2013, according to the Bergen Dispatch.
He was the pastor of St. Nicholas Church in Jersey City from 1998 to 2013, and was also the chaplain for the Jersey City Police Department during that time.
“It’s hard for me to believe it happened,” parishioner Cheryl Vorisek told NorthJersey.com. “I’m just trying to understand it.”
She told the newspaper that Carter is known as a Giants fan and Civil War history buff.
“Even in his homilies, the Giants and history always come into play,” she said.
5. He Helped the Church Rebuild After Superstorm Sandy
Carter came to the parish of St. Margaret after its church and rectory were severely damaged by flooding during Superstorm Sandy in 2013.
He oversaw the repairs to the church, which reopened in August 2013, according to an article from NorthJersey.com.
“Right now I am rebuilding buildings, but that’s not what primarily I am called to do,” Carter told the newspaper before the reopening, saying he not only had to rebuild the church, but the community. “I am called to do that now, but also to rebuild the church — the people of God — and the best way I do that is by proclaiming his word.”