Pelham police charge man with making terrorist threats

Published 7:44 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2011

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Pelham Police Department issued a warrant for a Birmingham man after police said the man entered the First Baptist Church of Pelham on Aug. 1 and claimed he was a “horseman of the Apocalypse” and threatened church employees.

Police are searching for 28-year-old Birmingham resident David Henderson, and have charged him with one count of making terrorist threats after police said he entered the church office at about 9:30 a.m. and threatened employees.

Mike Shaw, the church’s pastor, said he and other church employees had encountered Henderson in the past, and said the suspect may have a mental disability.

“We knew something was wrong, because people usually walk into the church and ask my secretary ‘Can I see Bro. Mike?’” Shaw said. “He just walked straight into my office.”

Shaw said Henderson then sat down and began speaking of visions he was having.

“He sat down and we had a little conversation,” Shaw said, noting he could not share specific details of the conversation due to the ongoing police investigation.

“He said ‘This is going to happen. I know it because I can see things before they happen,’” Shaw said. “I said ‘Don’t talk like that. Some people may take that as a threat.’ And then he repeated ‘Well, it’s going to happen.’”

Shaw said Henderson did not threaten any church employees directly, but he said the suspect “made him uncomfortable.”

“He did not threaten anyone personally, but he would not back down from what he was saying,” Shaw said. “We take things like that very seriously, because we have children at the church. We want the children to know they are in a safe haven, and we have security measures that we will not hesitate to take.

“If he would have made any personal threats, I would have been calling 911 right then,” Shaw added, noting he had been back at work from a vacation “about 30 minutes” when the incident happened.

After Henderson spoke with Shaw, the suspect left the scene in a pickup truck, Shaw said. Shaw then called Pelham police and reported the incident and reported what direction Henderson was traveling.

An officer later stopped Henderson, but did not have enough information to bring charges against the suspect, said Pelham police Lt. Scott Tucker.

However, Pelham police later spoke with Shaw and other church employees before issuing a warrant for Henderson.

“You can’t just ignore that. It fit inside the criteria of the charge,” Tucker said. “Hopefully, there wasn’t any truth to him following through with anything he said.”

As of Aug. 2, police had not made any arrests in the case.

“He needs some serious help. I called the police more to help him than anything else,” Shaw said. “I hope this will be a wake-up call for him to get the help he needs.”