CASTLE HAYNE, NC (WECT) - Reverend Randall Smith, of Castle Hayne Advent Christian Church, was attacked and stabbed in the stomach Tuesday morning while at the church. He was taken to the hospital for treatment and has since been released.
"I am doing really good. I've really been blessed. I'm just sore," Smith explained. "I hope to be able to continue all my duties really quickly, you know within the next several days, but I really appreciate everything everybody did to help me. And I really appreciate the EMT that got there and the Sheriff's Department and everyone else. It's hard to say - thank you seems so small but I really do appreciate it."
Eddie Meeks, a deacon for the church, said he found Smith in the fellowship hall hunched over on the floor when he arrived for a weekly prayer meeting around 9:30 a.m.
Investigators say a man entered the church and demanded money. The pastor said he had no money, and that's when the suspect stabbed him and ran.
Authorities describe the suspect as a white male, about 5'10" tall, with an average build weighing about 160-175 pounds, 30-40 years of age, with long dark hair, and a long full beard. He was wearing a black hoodie with an army-style jacket over it at the time of the incident.
Deputies set up a perimeter around the church and were using K-9 units to search for the suspect.
"I was just shocked that somebody would do this to such a nice, decent person," Kathy Rector, a member of Advent Christian Church, said of the incident. "I don't hold anything against the person who did it, and I hope no one else does. I know that the pastor won't because he's just that kind of person and he would tell everyone to pray for the person that did it."
Several members of the congregation gathered outside the church and bowed their heads in prayer for Smith.
After receiving positive reports about the pastor's condition, the congregation is hopeful Smith may be able to attend the Advent candle lighting on Christmas, a church tradition.