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Virginia man shows up to church with gun, knives following ‘suspicious online postings’: police

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A Virginia man who posted vague threats of violence online and shared images of a church that he later entered during Sunday services with multiple weapons has been arrested, police announced Monday.

Rui Jiang, 35, was taken into custody after police responded to Park Valley Church in Haymarket, Virginia, at about 10:15 a.m. on Sunday and found him in possession of a loaded handgun with an additional magazine, a folding knife and a folding “credit card” style knife, FOX 5 DC reported.

Officers responded to the church after someone in Laurel, Maryland, reported Jiang’s “suspicious and concerning online postings,” Prince William County police said. Three police departments across Maryland and Virginia were involved in the investigation that led to his arrest. 

Nobody had been harmed in the incident and his motive is unclear at the time.

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Rui Jiang mugshot

Rui Jiang, 35, is charged with threats of bodily harm and carrying a dangerous weapon to a place of religious worship. (Prince William County Police Department)

Jiang is charged with threats of bodily harm, which is a felony, and carrying a dangerous weapon to a place of religious worship, which is a misdemeanor. He is being held without bond.

An investigation into Jiang was launched Sunday by police in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, after a concerned citizen reported suspicious social media posts allegedly made by him insinuating he might have been planning an attack on a church, which was later identified as Park Valley Church in Prince William County, Virginia.

The department then notified Fairfax County police in Virginia after investigators identified his suspected home within the county. He was not home when officers arrived.

Prince William County police went to the church to investigate after they were contacted by Fairfax County police, who provided information on a car Jiang was possibly driving.

An off-duty Prince William County officer, who was in uniform while working a detail assignment at the church, located Jiang’s car in the church’s parking lot, Prince William County police said. 

The officer coordinated with church staff who were already monitoring a suspicious person on church grounds. Jiang was detained near the church’s entrance without incident.

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Prince William County Police car

Officers responded to the Virginia church after a Maryland resident reported the suspect’s “suspicious and concerning online postings,” police said. (Prince William County Police)

As church services were underway, Jiang entered through a separate door and had been inside the building before he was stopped, according to Prince William County police. He had a concealed weapon permit and the firearm in his possession was not reported stolen.

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Investigators obtained a search warrant and an emergency substantial risk order, also known as a “red-flag” law, which allows authorities to seize a gun after convincing a judge that a person would be a danger to themselves or others. 

Related documents and electronic items were seized from Jiang’s home in Falls Church, Virginia, but no additional firearms were found.

“Law enforcement credits the concerned citizen who contacted police regarding these suspicious online postings, joint law enforcement efforts from multiple police agencies, and the staff of Park Valley Church for their vigilance,” Prince William County police said in the news release.

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