Lawton_God was on a Lawton preacher's side as he held a man he found inside a church van at gunpoint. The preacher says the man was trying to steal the van shortly before 1 a.m. on Thursday, at the Christian Servicemen's Center in the 300 Block of C Avenue.
Pastor Reinherd Heinz is a 21-year Marine Corps veteran, so he is very familiar with firearms. However, he says he's never had to use a firearm at home. He says he was in his office studying late Wednesday night when he took a break, walked to the front of his building, and looked out the window. "I noticed someone was inside our servicemen center's van," says Heinz.
At first, Heinz says he thought it may have been a homeless person trying to find a place to sleep. But, he quickly learned otherwise. "He was in there trying to get my van started, and I knew because the flashers were flashing on and off," he says. Instinct kicked in and Heinz told his 19-year-old son - who was also at the church - to grab his shotgun while he called 911.
Heinz says at first he did stay back to wait for officers to arrive. "The more I watched, I knew he was trying to tear apart the steering column and trying to get it started," he says. But, Heinz says he never got it started. The next thing he knew, the guy was sliding out of the passenger side of the van. So, Heinz walked in front of his church and pulled his shotgun on the would-be criminal.
Heinz says he ordered the man to lie down on the ground. "He looked really scared, and he went right down on the sidewalk like I had asked him," he says. Police arrived about the same time and arrested Antonio Hernandez. Investigators told them he was trying to get out of town. Police say Hernandez is being charged with attempted motor vehicle theft and auto burglary.
Without the van, Heinz says he would have no way to drive soldiers and Marines to the Christian Servicemen's Center. "I just think society has to understand that we have a right to defend what's ours, and I was just trying to protect my property," he says. "That's all I was trying to do." Heinz says the Center is a place for soldiers to share ministry, play games, and to give armed forces members a safe place to gather off post.