Thursday, October 8, 2020

Woman threatened following church outreach efforts

An 22-year-old man has pleaded guilty to intentionally threatening an Inkster woman with physical harm to obstruct her free exercise of religion, which is a federal offense.

The incident began last July, according to official accounts of the case, when Teresa Patton received the threatening message from the Facebook page of an 83-year-old man. Patton is an attorney and her husband is in law enforcement. She said that she first interpreted the threatening message as a joke. 

A more careful examination showed that there were two “friends” associated with the Facebook page from where the message originated, one of those identified as Ronny Wyatt, 22.  Patton told investigators that she knew Wyatt through her church outreach program and had taken him food as part of the Sunset Church of Christ in Taylor outreach services.

Wyatt alegedly admitted to FBI investigators that he had sent the message telling Berry that he would show up at the church “with my AK to put you and your [expletive] family down [expletive].”

Federal officials said that Wyatt admitted he was acting intentionally to obstruct the woman's freedom of religion, because she is African-American and that he intended her to read his message as a threat. FBI agents reported finding several weapons believed to belong to Wyatt at his mobile home.

The church did not shut down due to the threat although church officials did increase security including having Patton's husband walk the church aisles while armed in an effort to  protect worshippers.

Wyatt’s mother reportedly told police that her son was angry that  church members attempted to counsel him about his drug use.