Oregon man in custody after church incident

Casey Strege allegedly assaulted two security guards in Port Angeles

PORT ANGELES — An Oregon man is facing possible charges today for allegedly assaulting two security guards at Independent Bible Church in Port Angeles.

Casey Strege, 43, of Eugene, Ore., was detained outside the church during a Sunday service by the two employees and off-duty Port Angeles Police Officer Mike Johnson.

Strege was arrested for investigation of two counts of first-degree assault and one count of first-degree burglary. He was being held Tuesday in the Clallam County jail on $10,000 bail.

A court hearing is set for 1 p.m. today for possible filing of charges.

Police alleged that a belligerent Strege entered the church without pre-registering in violation of COVID-19 restrictions and yelled for a pastor who was leading a service at about 11:40 a.m.

Strege was escorted out of the church by two security guards, one of whom grabbed him by the arm. Strege then pulled a knife on the guards, police said in the affidavit for probable cause.

Johnson and the church employees used empty hand tactics to disarm Strege and restrain him until on-duty officers arrived, police said.

One of the guards was cut on the left index finger, but no one was seriously hurt, court papers said.

Johnson was attending the 11 a.m. service when Strege entered the building. The off-duty officer used his cell phone to summon on-duty personnel, police said.

Johnson would not comment on the incident when reached by cell phone Tuesday, saying he needed permission from his supervisors and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office because it was an ongoing investigation.

Officer Luke Brown said in court papers that Strege was stopped by the church employees because he did not pre-register for the service.

“Strege stated that he raised his voice to get Pastor Aaron (Bacon)’s attention, and at that point the two men tried to escort Strege outside,” Brown wrote in the affidavit.

“Strege stated that they told him to go outside, and one grabbed him by the arm. Strege then told me that he stated, ‘I have a right to defend myself.’ ”

Strege said he was asked multiple times to step outside the church.

“Strege admitted to being loud and stated that he felt he was assaulted when one of the men tried to grab him,” Brown said in court papers.

“Strege admitted to pulling out his knife and telling the men that he would defend himself. Strege also talked about how he was a ‘Midwestern man’ and that he believed in the Second Amendment, and that he had a duty to defend himself.”

Brown said he also dealt with Strege when he refused to leave New Life Open Bible Church on Sept. 6.

“Strege at that point accused the pastor of assaulting him when the pastor touched his shoulder and asked him to leave the building,” Brown said.

Should he post bail, Strege is ordered to have no contact with Independent Bible Church.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].

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