Armed man dies after church disturbance

Police say an autopsy is planned for a man who created a violent disturbance in an Indian Lake church and then died after being restrained by witnesses.

Parishioners told state police that the man, identified as 44-year-old Jason M. Berg, entered St. Mary’s Church during an afternoon service Saturday. He reportedly shouted obscenities, threw objects at churchgoers and began advancing toward the church’s priest, the Rev. Phillip Allen, before being restrained.

Police say Berg was armed with a loaded .45 caliber pistol, a spare magazine, several rounds of ammunition and pocket knife.

Berg, a local resident, initially “violently resisted” the parishioners who sought to subdue and disarm him, but then he became unresponsive, police said.

“When he was on the floor with people holding him down, he was shouting ‘Kill me, kill me,'” Allen told the Glens Falls Post-Star. “Some time later, they noticed his hand getting blue and they were concerned about whether he was breathing.”

Paramedics from the Indian Lake Volunteer Ambulance Corp. tried to revive Berg by administering CPR, but he was pronounced dead at the scene by Hamilton County Coroner Donald Townsend. An autopsy is scheduled today at Albany Medical Center.

Allen told the Post-Star that Berg threw candle stands across the church that hit two members of his congregation, a man and a woman. The man was reportedly hit in the jaw while the woman was struck in the temple. Police said the injured churchgoers were taken by ambulance to Glens Falls Hospital where they were treated and released.

Several churchgoers told authorities they heard what sounded like muffled gunshots before Berg entered the church, but a search found no evidence of that, state police said.

The incident remained under investigation Sunday.