Billy Lewis, 65, allegedly stood up during Sunday school at the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church in Sumter, S.C., and stabbed a fellow parishioner sitting in the pew in front of him, according to the Huffington Post.
The unidentified victim had wounds to his neck, shoulder and the back of his head. He was treated by a nurse at the service and was then airlifted to Palmetto Health Richland medical center.
Sumter County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Officer Ken Bell said that Lewis has a history of mental illness but had never before turned violent.
“There’d been no argument,” Bell said. “As far as we know, there’d been no animosity between the victim and the suspect.”
Lewis, who was charged with attempted murder, was denied bail during his hearing Monday, according to the Associated Press.
“As bad as it was, we are fortunate it was not worse,” said Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the church members as well as the victim and his family and the suspect.”
The victim is reportedly in stable condition.