A Southern Baptist church planter in Louisiana faces up to 15 years in prison stemming from a road-rage incident in which he allegedly fired a handgun at an 18-wheeler.
The Louisiana State Bureau of Investigation on Feb. 12 arrested 47-year-old Christopher Williams of Baton Rouge on charges of aggravated assault with a firearm, aggravated criminal damage to property, illegal carrying and discharge of weapons and reckless operation of a vehicle. The most serious charge is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, and the least serious is a misdemeanor.
Police said the driver of a tractor trailer called police shortly before 9 a.m. on Feb. 11 complaining that another motorist had shot at his eastbound vehicle on Interstate 10 near Gramercy, Louisiana, in St. James Parish.
The trucker said erratic driving by the driver of a black Hyundai Sonata caused a minor crash, and after the accident the driver of the Hyundai produced a handgun and fired it from the driver’s side window. The trucker said gunfire struck the front of the truck, and the other driver fled the scene.
Troopers identified Williams as the driver of the Hyundai. After learning of the investigation, police said, Williams turned himself in.
Media later identified Williams as pastor of Renew Church in Baton Rouge, a multi-ethnic, multi-generational church plant launched in 2017. According to Baptist Press, Williams is a missionary of the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board working in partnership with the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
Also known by his Christian hip-hop name Checkerz, Williams was featured last August in a story in the Louisiana Baptist Message describing his calling to ministry in a multi-ethnic setting.
“I was invited to go to an all-white church or an all-black church, but as I continued to read God’s word, it says every nation, tribe and tongue gathered around the throne to worship,” Williams described his entering the ministry. “So God gave me a vision of what that would look like on earth.”
Reporting on his arrest Feb. 27, the Baptist state newspaper quoted a source saying there is another side to the story but “Pastor Checkerz” has been instructed by his lawyer not to discuss it at this time.