Douglas Betancourt Stabbed Pastor and Parishioners In Little Havana Church, Cops Say

Douglas Betancourt sat quietly in a back row straight through a service in a Little Havana church yesterday evening. After the mass, Pastor Hector Silva and his worshipers gathered in the back to eat a late meal together. Betancourt, a 25-year-old transient, approached the group, whipped out a knife and then declared in Spanish, "I don't like being humiliated!"

Bloody mayhem ensued, police say, as Betancourt wildly stabbed at Silva and his parishioners, leaving three with serious wounds. Police arrested Betancourt late last night.

The small church, located at 1548 West Flagler Street, is identified in online listings as Centro Evangelistico Luz.

It's not clear from police reports whether Betancourt was a regular at the church. The Honduras native is homeless, police say.

Whatever his motives, he showed up armed with a knife at the late service, which wrapped up around 11:30 last night. When he attacked Silva, the pastor, several other parishioners tried to protect him from Betancourt's blade.

"Don't run away, let's deal with this as men!" Betancourt shouted during the melee.

Eleazar Lanuza, a 24-year-old, got a cut on the head; Calderon Franklin, another parishioner, was cut in the chest, and Jorge Palermo was stabbed in the leg, a wound that required emergency surgery at Jackson Memorial Hospital.

Betancourt was arrested a few blocks away and admitted to officers that he was trying to kill Silva, police say. He's charged with two counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated battery.

Here's the arrest report:

Bet an Court Arrest

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink