PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — U.S. Attorney William McSwain says his office is investigating the attack of a lector during Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul last weekend. McSwain says the attack was “potentially a federal crime.”
“This attack during Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul is potentially a federal crime,” tweeted McSwain Friday. “Thus, my Office is investigating it. No decision has yet been made about potential charging.”
The disturbing act of violence was caught on camera during the 11 a.m. service livestream last Sunday. A woman dressed in green was captured on the livestream punching a lector twice as she walked back to her pew.
Those who regularly attend mass there say they have seen the woman at the cathedral in recent weeks. However, the lector, Sarah Contrucci, said she had never seen her attacker before and adds the woman was mumbling “something about respecting God” while striking her in the face.
“I saw somebody there that clearly seemed to be waiting there and I was a little worried that she was going to attempt to make a scene of some sort, to disrupt the mass,” Contrucci said. “So I was thinking that I wanted to do whatever I could to keep the situation calm and respectful and so I just wanted to get back to my pew and allow the mass to resume.”
Father Dennis Gill says the woman ran out of the cathedral and the incident was promptly handled off-camera.
Contrucci was fine and did not need any medical attention.
“She was very brave, she handled it in a very mature way and she did not require any medical attention,” Gill said. “She is fine, thank God.”
Detectives served a search warrant in North Philadelphia the day after the attack following a tip. However, the woman was questioned and police declined to file charges.