Drunk man assaults organist and holds him hostage in church for an hour
An organist who was detained and abused by a man for an hour on Friday at the Lamberti Church in Zelhem (Gelderland) returned home on Saturday afternoon. This was stated by Ernst van Drumpt, chairman of the church, De Gelderlander reported. Furthermore, the police confirmed that the 72-year-old victim had been released from the hospital. However, the police could not confirm whether it was a hostage-taking.
A 36-year-old suspect from the municipality of Oude IJsselstreek was arrested on Friday after the incident for the assault. He remains in custody as of Saturday, the police informed.
Local residents told De Gelderlander that the 36-year-old had been drinking in front of the church for a while that afternoon, causing quite a nuisance. When the bystanders intervened and wanted to take away his drink, the man became angry and fled into the church. According to the church chairman, the man then entered the church on Friday afternoon while the organist was rehearsing. The door to the organ was closed because of the rehearsal. The man climbed over the pews and pillars into the organ loft. This was followed by a "significant scuffle" in which the organist was kicked, punched, and threatened. The 72-year-old victim was trapped in the organ loft for an hour and then said he had to go to the bathroom. While in the restroom, he called 911, after which the police and ambulance quickly arrived.
The man was taken to the hospital with "significant injuries," according to a police spokesperson. According to the church president, the church's regular organist mainly suffered psychological damage from the violent incident. "It will take some time for him to get over this," Van Drumpt expects.
It is still unclear to Van Drumpt who the man is and why he invaded the organ room. The church president only knows from hearsay that the man was drinking heavily and acting very unpleasantly before entering the church and that his beer was taken away afterward. What exactly happened is also still under investigation by the police.
The church was closed on Saturday, but Sunday's service will continue with a different organist. Van Drumpt will speak at the beginning of the service about the incident, which also came as a shock to the village community. "The church here is intentionally open all day, every day between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., for people who want a moment of silence, to sit down for a while or listen to the organ rehearsal."
Starting Monday, the church will be open between 10 a.m. and noon. The following week, opening hours will hopefully "return to business as usual," the church president said.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times