Monday, Nov. 9, 1998 | 10:57 a.m.
Satan's alleged messenger had come and gone.
But members of West Valley Assembly of God were still recuperating on Sunday from the Friday morning attack that left their sanctuary damaged and their pastors grappling with the question: Why?
"There are a lot of forces of evil in this town, and I think she was either seriously possessed by the devil or mentally ill," the Rev. Paul Goulet said of a woman who rammed her truck through the front doors of the church at 8100 W. Westcliff on Friday.
Metro police arrested Susan Fowler, 35, and charged her with battery, assault with a deadly weapon and malicious destruction of property.
After allegedly attempting to run over a pastor in the church parking lot, she rammed the nose of her gray Ford Ranger repeatedly into the front of the church, crushing the stucco walls and knocking down the glass doors, witnesses said.
She then pulled a pipe from under her seat, walked into the church and began screaming obscenities, according to church members who were there to participate in Bible study classes.
"I heard this noise, and I went out there," said the Rev. Joel Garcia, who was teaching a class at the time. "I saw smoke and dust and everything mangled, and then I saw her standing there. She had this ugly, wicked look on her face like she was so angry, and she said, 'I am from Satan.' "
Fowler was reportedly wearing a T-shirt depicting a skeleton and had on her truck seat a book about angels.
"I just went up to her and put my hand out to her chest and said, 'In the name of Jesus, I rebuke you,' " Garcia said. "And she said, 'Save your souls, I'm already dead.'
"I just kept on rebuking her. ... Then she started singing 'Jesus Loves Me' -- but that's the way Satan is -- he tries to get our compassion and mercy, but she was a very wicked lady."
Fowler then ran to the back of the church compound wielding the pipe as a weapon. She eventually was tackled by Garcia and another church member and was detained until police arrived. No one was injured.
Fowler is not a member of the church, and Metro officers could not comment on her motivation in attacking the church.
But Goulet and other pastors at the Pentecostal church said they believe that the attack was not random. Goulet said he believes it may have been motivated by a recent Sun article in which he spoke out against practitioners of the occult.
"I don't know why she did it, but (the article) definitely could have caused it, that's what I believe," Goulet said. "We've stirred up those types of groups in this town, and there are a lot of those types of people here.
"A lot of people who are involved in that type of thing are wonderful people who are just confused, but a lot are just evil," Goulet said.
"We're preparing for a battle, but we have Jesus Christ on our side," Goulet said.