Detroit pastor shoots and kills man wielding brick in church

The murder of nine members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston has sparked concern about the vulnerability of places of worshipReuters

A pastor shot dead a man wielding a brick during a service at his Detroit church on Sunday.

The incident occurred at around 1.45pm; 15 minutes into the service at the City of God Church in the west of the city. A 25-year-old man – identified by police as Deane Smith – apparently tried to attack the pastor in the reception area. The church leader responded by pulling out a handgun and firing several shots.

Smith later died of his injuries in hospital, while the pastor was taken into custody.

"The pastor had had issues with the man before," Assistant Chief Steve Dolnun told the Detroit Free Press. "He had been threatening him to do bodily harm. He walked into the service and went after the pastor with a brick. The pastor pulled out his Glock and fired several shots. I think he hit him four or five times, and the man died."

According to The Detroit News, Smith had ranted on Facebook weeks before the incident, accusing the pastor of impregnating his wife.

Another church leader in the city, Andre Spivey, who also serves as a Detroit City Councilman, told the newspaper that concerns about the vulnerability of places of worship have increased since nine people were shot dead by a gunman in Charleston, South Carolina, in June.

"It continues to shock me," Spivey said. "Before June, you saw things like this happen every now and then. But now it seems every week something happens at a church."

Following the incident at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, many churches in the US began introducing tightened security measures.

Bishop Ira Combs of the Greater Bible Way Temple Church in Michigan told Reuters in July: "We aren't looking to engage people in violence, but we are going to practice law enforcement. And we are going to interdict if someone comes in with a weapon."

He is now flanked by two men with handguns while he preaches, and armed security members are scattered throughout the congregation.

Also speaking to Reuters, pastor Charles Ellis of a Pentecostal megachurch in Detroit said: "Nobody should have to worship in fear or be looking over their shoulder". His church employs a trained, armed, 25-man security force, many of whom have backgrounds in law enforcement.

A recent spate of shootings – including the murder of nine at a college in Oregon last month – has once again prompted calls for tighter gun laws across the US. President Obama, who has advocated for greater restrictions on gun ownership, told reporters that "prayers are not enough".