Man arrested after standoff at Jimmy Swaggart Ministries

BATON ROUGE, La. – A machete-wielding man held sheriff’s deputies at bay for two hours outside the Rev. Jimmy Swaggart’s headquarters today before officers broke into his truck and arrested him.

Workers at Jimmy Swaggart Ministries called police after they became suspicious of Garland Morris, who had spent four hours in his pickup in a parking lot, listening to the televangelist’s radio station at loud volume, said Casey Hicks, spokeswoman for the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office. Morris had also appeared at the ministries a day earlier and asked for to speak with an individual who worked there, Hicks said.

Morris, 35, of Carville, waved a machete at deputies when they arrived, refusing to get out of the truck.

After two hours, the SWAT officers eventually charged the truck, broke a window and took Morris into custody. He was charged with disturbing the peace and aggravated assault, Hicks said.

Hicks said it was not clear why Morris was at Swaggart’s Baton Rouge campus, which includes a school and worship center, or whether Swaggart was there at the time. Hicks didn’t know whom Morris had asked to speak to Monday.

A message for Swaggart was not immediately returned.

In 1987, Swaggart was at the center of a sex scandal involving a prostitute at a New Orleans motel. But the longtime evangelist continues to enjoy a national following, with services and Bible studies carried on radio and cable television. He is a cousin of rock ’n’ roll pioneer Jerry Lee Lewis.

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This post was last updated: Apr. 30, 2008