Thomas Zebulun Lewter, a 34-year-old resident of Athens, was apprehended by Athens Police on July 8th after becoming unruly and threatening violence during church.
The suspect was attending the weekly devotion services hosted by O’Neal Church of Christ when he was given an opportunity to speak to the crowd. According to witness statements, Lewter took the stage and began ranting about his pending divorce. He explicitly mentioned his dissatisfaction with his current wife and father who were both attending the services. Several members of the congregation became uncomfortable with the discussion prompting many to leave the services.
Other church members approached the pulpit and asked the suspect to politely stop talking, but he refused to comply with their requests. After asking him repeatedly to sit down, Lewter began to reach for his firearm. A concerned church member tackled the suspect. One churchgoer happened to be a retired Limestone County Sheriff’s deputy, so he helped assist in restraining and handcuffing the suspect.
Lewter is being charged with making terroristic threats, and additional charges may be pending. He was booked into the Limestone County Jail, but he is currently at Athens-Limestone Hospital for a mental evaluation. Investigators determined the suspect’s wife had recently filed for divorce and is seeking full custody of the couple’s two children. The suspect’s wife is filing under the grounds of incompatible temperaments, but authorities also discovered she has accused Lewter of having an alcohol abuse problem. Bail has not yet been set for the suspect.