The Bishop of Western North Carolina said pastoral care is being provided to a priest, his family, and his congregation after he was arrested on felony weapons charges last week.

The Rev. William Rian Adams, 35, rector of Calvary Church in Fletcher, North Carolina, faces two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to kill. He is accused of pointing a pistol at two other motorists on the Florida Turnpike last week and could face five years in prison on each count.

Adams, driving a red Corvette, allegedly slammed on his brakes in front of a pickup truck on the Florida Turnpike near Palm City, more than 600 miles from Fletcher. Adams pointed a pistol at the driver and passenger, the truck’s occupants said.

“It’s him and some girl in the car,” said Sharon Hughes of St. Cloud, Florida, in audio segments of a 911 call that a Florida television station posted. “And I just asked, I said, ‘Why did you slam on the brakes?’ And he cursed me and everything and then he just pulled this gun out.”

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Adams was stopped six miles up the turnpike by Florida Highway Patrol troopers, who ordered him and a passenger to step out of the car with their hands in the air. Adams admitted to having a weapon but said he had never pulled it out or pointed at the other motorists. He told the officers he had a concealed-weapons permit and that the gun was not loaded. The troopers found a Glock 22 pistol in the car and arrested Adams. He later was released on $15,000 bond.

According to Hussein & Webber, a Florida criminal defense firm, aggravated assault “is harshly prosecuted throughout the state, and even first-time offenders will face a realistic possibility of prison. …  Even if a firearm is not discharged, the mere fact that a gun was wielded during the assault will subject the accused to a [three-year] minimum mandatory prison sentence.”

Calls and email messages to Calvary Church were not returned. The Rt. Rev. José A. Mcloughlin, Bishop of Western North Carolina, released this statement:

“As Bishop of Western North Carolina, I want to note that consultation and conversation are underway. Pastoral care is being provided to Father Adams, his family, and his congregation. It is best to remember that, as in all situations, there are many facets to consider. We believe in, and will follow, all formal processes. I ask that you continue to keep everyone in your prayers.”

Kirk Petersen