Man accused of threatening South Bay church, school says it's all a misunderstanding

Posted at 5:58 PM, Nov 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-01 20:58:37-04

CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) — Upstairs in the visiting room he teared up saying this was a big misunderstanding.

Thomas Escajeda, 61, is accused of threatening St. Rose of Lima church and a school at 293 H St. Tuesday, according to Chula Vista Police. Police says he threatened to harm parishioners attending a mass for All Saints Day on Thursday at 8 a.m.

Escajeda, however, told 10News from jail Thursday that the accusations are a mistake. 

Escajeda, who has attended the church for a year, said he called the church with the idea to sell hot chocolate, coffee and maybe some donuts to warm the congregation up during the cold morning hours before service.

He says it was the phrase, "I'd make a killing," that sent the person on the other end into a panic.

RELATED: Chula Vista church receives threat against All Saints Day mass

The mass and Thursday classes were canceled despite the arrest.

If Escajeda did say those words the timing couldn't have been worse with the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh last Saturday.

Thursday, he had one message — directed to his wife and stepdaughter.

"I miss them every day, even though I've been here for a day and a half, basically think before you speak," Escajeda said.

10News has reached out to the church to verify Escajeda's story. He is currently being held on $100,000 bail.

Chula Vista Police has told 10News they will not comment on a pending investigation.