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2022 Tulsa Cathedral Stabbing and Arson Attempt

Lesson Learned from a Deadly Force Church Attack

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This article is part of a series on Lessons Learned from Deadly Force Church Incidents. The related Safety Member Certification training module is "Active Shooter Response."[1]

From the Bible

* Jeremiah laments the fate of those who were slain when Jerusalem fell:
Behold, O Lord, and consider to whom thou hast done this... Shall the priest and the prophet be slain in the sanctuary of the Lord? (Lamentations 2:20).

* Because of enemy threats, Shemiah tells Nehemiah to take refuge in the Temple:
Afterward I came unto the house of Shemaiah ... and he said, “Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay thee” (Nehemiah 6:10).

* Paul told King Agrippa how he was attacked in the Temple:
“For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me” (Acts 26:21).


Not all deadly force attacks at churches are with firearms or explosives. This one was with a sword. Intentional killers who can't get guns will use whatever they can get.

Churches and church-operated schools opening onto city streets are attractive targets for attackers, especially those who want to be in the news. The recent attack on a Catholic cathedral and school in Tulsa is an example of this.

Videocast and Lessons Learned Download

Kris Moloney discusses this story in a videocast on the YouTube channel Sheepdog Church Security Academy - the audio is in a Church Security Roll Call podcast. Beneath the video screen is a link to the Church Shooting Lessons Learned Download. This is essentially an article summary, a PDF which can be printed (or attached to a message) and shared. The link is live for this article until the next Lesson Learned article is posted.[2][3]

Off the Street

It was about 4 o'clock on a sunny Wednesday afternoon in Tulsa. Classes had let out at the Holy Family Classical School, which was next to the Holy Family Cathedral, but after-school activities were going on. Several students with teachers and staff were on the cathedral steps taking pictures. The front desk attendant was watching.

A middle-aged man carrying a cooler and a long object walked across the street. He set the cooler down and approached some of the adults as he talked threateningly. The long object was a two-foot sword.

A bell sounded, and the students and staff went into the school and locked the door. The desk attendant came down to calm the man. There was a struggle. The attendant was cut in the hand. He went inside and locked the door, awaiting the police, who had already been called.

The attacker tried to get in, but all doors were locked. He walked into the space between the church and the school, opened the cooler, took out two glass bottles, and put rags in the necks. He lit the rags and threw the bottles at cathedral windows. They burst into flame, but did not go through the windows. Damage was limited to some broken glass. The man then ran to his car and drove away. The entire event was recorded by the church's security cameras.

While police were at the cathedral, a call came in of a bomb threat at a store a few miles southeast, not far from Broken Arrow. About 1½ hours after the stabbing and arson attempt at Holy Family, they found the suspect's car in the store's parking lot. The suspect, who was carrying a Bible, did not obey police orders, so he was Tased and arrested. In his car were the sword and the cooler.

Another Episode in a Troubled Life

The suspect in the cathedral stabbing is 48 years old. He's from Okmulgee, 10-12 miles south of Tulsa. At the time of the cathedral attack, he was a resident of Broken Arrow, which borders Tulsa, not far from where he was arrested for the bomb threat. He is a member of an Indian nation in Oklahoma. So far, little other information about him has been available.

The attacker had several arrests since he was 32 and served time in prison. In 2006 he was arrested for 1st degree burglary and sentenced to prison. After prison, he was arrested twice for writing bogus checks. Then in 2020, he was arrested for assault and battery. Considering his record, the actions of Wednesday, October 5, are no surprise.


The Holy Family Cathedral held a mass of thanksgiving for safety and honored the Front Desk Attendant for his role in protecting the children of the school.

The suspect was charged with attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, possession of unregistered incendiary devices (Molotov cocktails), and attempted first degree arson (of an occupied structure). The charges are federal for two reasons: the arson attack on a church (Molotov cocktails are explosive devices), and his membership in a native tribe. Therefore, his trial will be in the U.S. District Court in Tulsa.

Lesson Learned

In most of these Lesson Learned articles, we acknowledge what was done right, then look for what else should have been done. In this case, we focus on what was done right, because that in itself saved many students and staff from potential injury.

At Holy Family Cathedral, what was done right? Since these things all fit together, we'll list what we see chronologically:

School fenced. All around the Holy Family Classical School is a wrought iron fence. Notable is that the fence extends between the front of the school building and the sidewalk. You can see this in the Google Maps street view of the school.

Surveillance cameras outside, good coverage. The entire incident was captured by the church's and school's surveillance cameras. They show everything from the man crossing the street to his throwing the firebombs at the church windows. The videos enabled police to accurately identify the bomb-threat suspect at the store as the assailant at the cathedral.

Watcher on duty. In many Catholic churches, it's greeters and ushers who fulfill the roles of a safety team. In this case, the greeter was the front desk attendant. While staff and children were on the church steps for taking school pictures, the attendant was watching. He saw the man with a sword crossing the street. He alerted someone to call 911 and activated the signal for everyone to go inside. By engaging the assailant, he gave others time to get inside.

Called 911. Whether it was the front desk attendant or a person inside, someone called 911 right away.

Lockout/lockdown plan. The school and the cathedral had a plan for lockouts and lockdowns.

Outside evacuation to inside (O2I) plan. This is a step that may be overlooked by many. The reality is that churches and schools do have outdoor activities, and in this urban setting, this means they are accessible to (or on) the sidewalk and street. This school has a plan for bringing students inside in the case of an outside threat.

O2I/lockout/lockdown enacted. When a threat was identified, the alert was sounded and everyone came inside, locked the outside doors, and went to an inside lockdown.

Active engagement. The Front Desk Attendant came out and confronted the attacker, buying time for others to get inside to safety. It is the duty of a Church Safety Team to keep an attacker from advancing if they can. An effective sheepdog keeps the wolf or bear from the sheep.

Training Notes

All Church Safety Teams are encouraged to have each of their members trained and certified. This is done through the Safety Member Certification program. A member who takes each of the eight training modules (classes) and passes its certification test qualifies to be a Certified Safety Member for two years.

Training is available in three formats:

Team Certification (church-hosted classes) are the best option for training all or most of the team at once, such as when starting a Safety Ministry. Besides all taking the same instruction, there is opportunity to ask questions and to discuss topics with other pupils or the instructor. This can also be used to re-certify the team every two years. Depending on your location and their availability, a Certified Onsite Instructor can be found on Sheepdog Church Security.

Individual Certification (self-paced online instruction) is perfect for training a new member of an established team. This way, he or she does not have to wait months to be trained. Also, a member who cannot attend a class with the rest of the team can take it online.

Online Events (live Zoom classes) are available for both individuals and groups. Kris teaches these classes on Sunday afternoons at 3:00 pm (Central Time). The 2022-2023 school year has four quarters. Quarter 1 is already finished, and we are in the middle of Quarter 2. If you start now, you can continue until finishing all eight classes by the middle of Quarter 3.

Color coding:

Related to Article







Training Module


Sep 11

Nov 13

Jan 29

Mar 26

Safety Team Fundamentals


Sep 18

Nov 20

Feb 5

Apr 2

Active Shooter Response


Sep 25

Dec 4

Feb 12

Apr 16

Deescalating Disruptive Persons


Oct 2

Dec 11

Feb 19

Apr 23

Protecting Children from Abuse


Oct 9

Dec 18

Feb 26

Apr 30

Basic Use of Force Laws


Oct 16

Jan 8

Mar 5

May 7

Arson and Fire Safety


Oct 23

Jan 13

Mar 12

May 21

Storms and Disasters


Nov 6

Jan 22

Mar 19

Jun 4

Mass Trauma Emergencies

Auditing is taking classes, but not for credit. The cost is lower. This is good for training workers in certain areas, for instance, "Protecting Children from Abuse" for teachers, youth leaders and childcare workers, and "Mass Trauma Emergencies" for the Medical Response Team.


Persons ready to do violence can literally come off the street. If and when they do, we must already be ready.

Up Next

The next weekly article is "Wrestling with Danger" (Unarmed Defense and Control). Weapons, even less-than-lethal ones, are rarely the best option. Then there are times when no weapon is available.


Sheepdog Church Security Resources

  1. Kris Moloney, "Active Shooter Response v4," Safety Member Certification, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2020 [].
  2. Kris Moloney, Sheepdog Sheep Security Academy, YouTube [].
  3. Kris Moloney, Church Security Roll Call, Sound Cloud [].
  4. "Certified Onsite Instructors," Sheepdog Sheep Security, 2019 [].

News Stories and Online Information

  1. Emmett Jones and Timothy H.J. Nerozzi, "Man in Tulsa, Oklahoma arrested after attack on cathedral attendant with sword, attempt to set church on fire," Fox News, October 7, 2022 [].
  2. Amy Hybels, "Holy Family Cathedral and Classical School react after man threw Molotov cocktails at the church," FOX23 News, October 6, 2022 [].
  3. Jeanette Quezada, "Man charged following stabbing, arson attack at Tulsa church," 2News Oklahoma (KJRH), October 5, 2022, updated October 24, 2022 [].
  4. News On 6 Staff, "TPD Investigates Stabbing, Property Damage at Holy Family Cathedral," News On 6, October 6, 2022 [].
  5. Cal Day, "Man Accused of Stabbing Employee, Throwing Molotov Cocktails at Tulsa Cathedral," News On 6, October 6, 2022 [].
  6. News On 6 Staff, "Holy Family Cathedral Holds Mass in Response to Molotov Cocktail Attack," News On 6, October 7, 2022 [].
  7. News On 6 Staff, "Jury Indicts Man Accused Of Stabbing Employee, Throwing Molotov Cocktails at Tulsa Cathedral," News On 6, October 25, 2022 [].
  8. The Pillar Staff, "After Tulsa cathedral attack, a 'public witness to hope'," The Pillar, October 6, 2022 [].
  9. Jean Mondoro, "Oklahoma man arrested after starting fire at Catholic cathedral, attacking employee with sword, The motive for the violence remains unclear," LifeSite News, October 7, 2022 [].
  10. Akumbobe Robert, "Who is Daniel Edwards? Tulsa Oklahoma who tried to set cathedral on fire," Anchornews, October 7, 2022 [].
  11. From Staff Reports, "Diocese honors efforts of man injured while confronting an attempted intruder at Holy Family," Tulsa World, October 6, 2022, Updated October 11, 2022 [].
  12. Steve Smith, "Tulsan charged after attacking church employee, throwing Molotov cocktails at church," KZRG, October 7, 2022 [].
  13. Staff, "Oklahoma, Okmulgee County, Daniel Edwards,", after July 17, 2020 [].