Houston PD IDs 6 Church of Wells members arrested at Osteen church

Houston PD IDs 6 Church of Wells members arrested at Osteen church

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Six Church of Wells members have been identified as individuals who allegedly heckled Houston Pastor Joel Osteen on Sunday.

Jacob Gardner, Richard Trudeau, Kevin Fessler, Mark De Rouville, Matthew Martinez and Randall Valdez have all been charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass. According to KTRK TV in Houston, attendee Anwar Richardson shot grainy video of security removing the hecklers from the megachurch. The congregation clapped as they were removed and Osteen tried to continue delivering his message, but the disruptions continued.

"The praise and worship was good," Richardson told the station. "His wife had just delivered a quick message and the moment he started to preach, somebody gets up, and they yell, 'Joel Osteen, you're a liar.'"

Richardson told KTRK he and his family decided to leave after the group heckled the televangelist a sixth time.

"(Osteen) kept on going - he kept his composure," another churchgoer said. "He got the message out. He said 'no weapon formed against me shall prosper.' So, kudos to him for delivering a good service."

Richardson said his immediate thought was of the shooting at a church in Charleston, SC.

"All I could think of is, "You don't know what's going on," and I just can't wait to find out," Richardson said. "I've got to get out of there."

Lakewood spokesman Donald Iloff Jr told the Houston station the hecklers were all from the Church of Wells and were asked to leave but refused, and then security escorted them from the building.

The incident in Houston is just the latest in a long string of events all involving the Deep East Texas church. In April of 2014 during the city of Wells annual homecoming celebration, church members yelled at children, telling them they were going to hell. 

"If you have any units available, send them down this way. We've got a fight in progress," said a deputy calling for units. 

This only added to the already rocky relationship between the Church of Wells and the city's residents. A week following the homecoming incident, units were called to a protest organized by Wells residents. The residents, fed up with the actions of the church, wanted to showcase their frustration.

On January 31, 2015, Jacob Gardner, an elder of the church, was arrested on misdemeanor criminal trespass and resisting arrest charges for allegedly causing a disturbance at Sabine High School. Gardner allegedly told students they were going hell and that what they were being taught in school was wrong. Gardner was released after posting a 1,500 dollar bail.

Back in May 2015, members of the church were placed in handcuffs during a demonstration on the Stephen F. Austin State University campus. Campus police said church members were on the property making vulgar comments to female students. SFA requires any group holding an organized demonstration to have the proper permit, the Church of Wells members had no such permit.

Houston Police said Sunday's incident wasn't the first time Lakewood had issues with the group. About one month ago, members from the Church of Wells were on Lakewood property. 

They were asked to leave and warned that if they returned, there would be legal consequences.

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