Police arrested an Arkansas man over the weekend after he allegedly fired 19 rounds at a group of Jehovah’s Witnesses who were in the process of leaving his property.
35-year-old homeowner John Baldwin is believed to be a relative newcomer to the rural community in Centerton, with neighbors saying he moved into his home less than a month ago.
The local congregation in Bentonville has declined to be interviewed on camera about the incident to avoid making the situation worse.
It is reported that soon after three Witnesses called at Baldwin’s home he became agitated and told them to get off his property. Not content that they were complying with his wishes, he allegedly said “get me my nine” before firing multiple rounds at the group’s vehicle as it was leaving down the driveway. Mercifully, no one was injured.
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Baldwin was soon arrested, with “seven or eight cop cars” arriving at the scene according to neighbor Kristi Tidwell. “It seems like there’s no reason to do anything like that. If they left peaceably then why not leave them alone?” she said.
Now released on a $50,000 bond, it is reported that Baldwin will be charged with felony aggravated assault. If convicted, he faces a $10,000 fine and six years in jail.
A close call, and a sobering reminder
It is a huge relief to hear that all the Witnesses involved in this ordeal are safe, and that their assailant is facing justice. Even so, this incident does raise questions as to the inherent risks involved in calling at people’s homes unannounced.
It was only six months earlier that two Witness women were mauled by a pitbull while engaging in the door-to-door preaching work in Tulsa. Both were left seriously injured, and are arguably only alive today thanks to the timely intervention of an alert neighbor who came to their rescue and shot the animal.
Representatives of Bentonville congregation reminded reporters investigating the Baldwin shooting of their “do not call” policy. This arrangement is essentially an opt-out for members of the public who don’t want Witnesses to call on them again. But this policy offered no protection in this instance, where peaceful Witnesses calling on a new resident were faced with the sort of maniac who would shoot at unarmed fleeing Witnesses who were complying with his instructions.
The fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses call unannounced as part of their preaching work is well known, and is the subject of countless jokes and cartoons. But it does present a serious occupational hazard that neither the Watch Tower Society nor ordinary Witnesses seem willing to acknowledge. The above mentioned cases serve as sobering reminders that these days there is no way of knowing who or what Witnesses will be confronted with once they ring that doorbell.
- John Baldwin, Arkansas Man, Fired 19 Rounds At Jehovah’s Witnesses, Police Say
- Annoyed John Baldwin Fires 19 Rounds At Jehovah’s Witnesses Departing His Property
- Man Accused Of Shooting At Jehovah’s Witnesses Gets Court Date
- Second Tulsa Woman Attacked By Pit Bull Recounts Mauling
- “We have truly seen Jehovah’s hand” article