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Woman to stand trial for waving unloaded gun at Easter service

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SAN DIEGO -- A woman who walked into a church service in Clairemont on Easter Sunday and allegedly made violent threats while holding her young son and waving a gun around and was ordered Friday to stand trial on eight felony and misdemeanor counts.

Anna Conkey, 32, of Bonita, is accused of bringing an unloaded gun into Easter Sunday services at the Mt. Everest Academy, which is leased by the non-denominational Church Tsidkenu.

Prosecutors say that prior to the April 21 service, Conkey called 911 and emailed her former employer, NBC San Diego, and told them a woman with a gun was going to "blow up the foundation of the church."

Though the bomb threat turned out to be unfounded, Conkey later allegedly walked onto the stage in the auditorium of Mt. Everest Academy while holding a pistol in her right hand, and her young son cradled in her left arm.

In a video played during Conkey's preliminary hearing, Pastor Benjamin Wisan turns to see Conkey behind him and asks, "Is that a gun?"

He testified in court that he was unsure whether it was a gun or a taser, but told the crowd that it was a taser to calm them down, then instructed them to leave the building and pray.

Wisan and a handful of congregants testified that Conkey told them she was a martyr, said "You are all going to die" and urged them to listen to her message regarding her religious beliefs.

Defense attorney Stephen Cline said he didn't believe there was enough evidence to suggest that she was directly threatening the congregation, but was merely using the unloaded gun as a way to get their attention.

Several of the congregants testified that Conkey was waving the gun around and not leveling it at any specific person, while others alleged she pointed the gun at her baby. However, all of the witnesses expressed that they did not believe she had any intention of actually shooting anyone.

Congregant Craig Curtis Gotfried said, "She didn't go there to hurt anyone. She was there making a point. She believed in what she was saying." Gotfried said Conkey was shouting that there wasn't going to be a rapture and that Christians needed to die for their faith.

San Diego Police Sgt. Andrew Scheidecker testified that in an interview with Conkey, she explained that she had a "divine revelation" she wanted to convey to the churchgoers.

Before police arrived, churchgoers were able to disarm her and pull her baby away from her, but after bystanders handed the pistol to the officers, Conkey allegedly lunged forward, grabbed the gun and ran before being tackled by officers.

San Diego Superior Court Judge Laura H. Parksy held Conkey to answer on charges that include child endangerment, making criminal threats, possession of a firearm in a school zone, and a misdemeanor count of interfering with a religious service.

Conkey, who's being held on $1 million bail, is slated to return to court Oct. 28 for a Superior Court arraignment.

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