A Catholic priest in a small Nebraska community died Sunday after being attacked in a church rectory, authorities said.
Stephen Gutgsell was assaulted “during an invasion” of St John the Baptist Catholic church in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, the archdiocese of Omaha said in a Sunday statement.
Gutgsell was taken to an Omaha hospital, where he died from his injuries, church officials said. Fort Calhoun, with a population of about 1,000 people, is roughly 20 miles (32 kilometers) north of Omaha.
Police received a 911 call of an attempted break-in at the church just after 5am. When officers arrived, they found Gutgsell injured and an alleged attacker inside. Authorities took the suspect into custody, Washington county sheriff Mike Robinson said in a statement.
“This is an ongoing investigation, and the name of the suspect or manner of death will not be released,” Robinson said.
In 2007, Gutgsell pleaded guilty to theft by deception for embezzling $127,000 from an area church. He was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay restitution. He was later reassigned to another church. At the time, church leaders said Gutgsell learned his lesson, admitted wrongdoing and sought forgiveness.
Earlier this year, his brother and fellow priest, Michael Gutgsell, also pled guilty to theft charges. He served as chancellor of the Omaha archdiocese from 1994 until 2003.
Robinson told WOWT-TV that authorities did not believe Stephen Gutgsell’s death was related to his criminal history. Robinson did not respond Sunday to questions on the topic from the Associated Press.
Archdiocese of Omaha spokesperson Riley Johnson declined to comment beyond confirming that Stephen and Michael Gutgsell were brothers.
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