Thursday night police vehicles could be seen outside of Second Congregational Church during their once a month dance they help host for developmentally disabled adults.
“It was a domestic violence incident, which can happen anywhere but unfortunately it was here in our church,” said Second Congregational Church Pastor Rebecca White Newgren.
Police were called to the area a little before seven after they say a fight broke out. Soon they arrested 33 year old Robert Wheelock who they say attacked two people he had a previous domestic relationship with.
A staff member of one the social group agencies attending the event also was hurt while trying to break up the fight. One of those hurt is in critical condition but is expected to recover.
“This was not just a random act of violence, someone didn’t just walk in the doors,” Newgren said. “These two people were guests of ours for the night and this unfortunate altercation happened,” she added. Newgren says Wheelock is developmentally disabled and is saddened the fight happened on church grounds, but says it was an isolated incident.
“This still is a really safe place to be,” Newgren said. (It’s) A place that we love and treasure and so we are grateful to have this space and grateful for the public to be able to come and use it at all times in lots different ways,” she added.
Newgren says the unfortunate occurrence should make Rockford residents more aware of the impact of domestic violence.”Whether it’s here on the west side or somewhere way far east domestic violence is a problem in our city, so I think it’s something we should really look in to,” she said.
Wheelock is charged with two counts of aggravated battery, domestic battery, and aggravated domestic battery. He’s currently in the Winnebago County Jail.