CENTRAL, La. — The pastor who continued to defied government orders to limit crowds during the coronavirus pandemic was arrested Tuesday, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate.
According the the report, Pastor Tony Spell, 50, faces six misdemeanor counts of violating the governor's order after Spell held six large services at the Life Tabernacle Church in Central, Louisiana in defiance of Governor John Bel Edward's "Stay-at-home" order to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Central Police Chief Roger Corcoran told The Advocate the arrest followed weeks of urging Spell to temporarily suspend his services.
"He will be held responsible for his reckless and irresponsible decisions that endangered the health of his congregation and our community," Corcoran said. "We are facing a public health crisis and expect our community's leaders to set a positive example and follow the law."
The charges carry a maximum punishment of up to six months in parish jail and a fine of $500, the paper reports.
Spell livestreamed his arrest on Facebook, in which he can be seen being given documents by police officers and then praying with those officers.
Over the weekend, hundreds of people in Louisiana attended worship services at their church in defiance of the state's ban on gatherings due to COVID-19.
An estimated 500 people of all ages filed into the Life Tabernacle church on Sunday outside of Baton Rouge. The service came a day after New Orleans police broke up what they described as a "funeral repast" of about 100 people.
Assistant ministers and worshippers who stood outside the front doors and in the parking lot told news reporters to leave.
The Rev. Tony Spell, who also claims his services cure cancer and HIV, said no “dictator law” should keep people from worshiping God.
The Louisiana pastor declared that the coronavirus is “politically motivated” and continues to lead hundreds of people in church services.
Most people recover from this highly contagious virus in weeks, but the elderly and infirm can get pneumonia, which can lead to death.