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Maricopa detectives arrest man for threatening to shoot churchgoers

(Maricopa County Sheriff Office Photo)

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office arrested a man this week for allegedly threatening to shoot everyone in attendance at the North Valley Romanian Pentecostal Church.

Detectives from Maricopa County’s Threat Management Unit, with a language service assistant from the FBI, arrested Ismaiel Damian on Sunday for threats made to the church.

“[The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office’s] greatest resource and most effective tool and ensuring the safety of the community, is the community itself,” Sheriff Paul Penzone said in a press release.

“As challenging as it may be to sift through thousands of tips, this example illustrates the power of one community member making a difference.”

The investigation began on Feb. 19, after officials received a Facebook post in Romanian. While no direct threats were made, there were references made to a Pentecostal church and other concerning statements that led detectives to look into his background.

A witness was able to translate a phone conversation that was being held on speakerphone from Romanian to English. During the conversation, Damian indicated he planned on entering a church and shooting and killing people with his machine gun.

County officials monitored Damian and took him into custody when he was leaving for church.

A .38 Special Taurus revolver was found inside Damian’s car upon searching the vehicle.

Damian was taken into custody and booked for misdemeanor use of an electronic communication to terrify, intimidate, threaten or harass.

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