Pastor speaks out after man makes online threats to LGBT church members

MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida man is facing charges of cyber-stalking and harassment, after he allegedly made online threats to a church community and its LGBT members.

Miami Beach Police SWAT and hostage negotiators were on the scene near Meridian Avenue and 16th Street, after the subject, later identified as 34-year-old Joseph Jorczak, barricaded himself inside his apartment building, Wednesday.

According to members of the Miami Beach Community Church, Jorczak, who used to go attend services at the house of worship located on Lincoln Road, had been making violent threats against congregants for months.

“It was very hard,” said the Rev. Harold Thompson, the church’s senior pastor.

The Rev. Harold Thompson
The Rev. Harold Thompson

Thursday night, church members met to pray for peace. “We’re grieving. Joseph was a member of our congregation, and we cared for him and we loved him,” said Thompson.

The pastor told 7News that Jorczak began to unravel after he was diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Despite their efforts to help, Jorzack turned his anger toward the house of worship, eventually disrupting services. “When he got his diagnosis, I think it became very difficult for him to accept, and at that point he pulled away,” said Thompson.

Jorczak’s social media pages displayed threats of violence, saying the Pulse nightclub massacre would be small in comparison to what he had planned for the church.

On Tuesday night, a post that reads, “Murder murder kill kill,” was displayed on his Facebook page.

Thompson said they obtained a restraining order against Jorczak eight months ago, but in November, the online attacks became personal. “My daughter came to me and said, ‘Dad, Joseph Jorczak has posted a picture of me on his website,'” said the reverend, “and it had some sexually explicit connotations that were inappropriate.”

After that photograph was posted, Thompson once again contacted the police. “She’s 19, and as a father, I couldn’t stand by and not address that,” he said.

Jorczak was taken into custody after Wednesday’s standoff with police. He is being held for a psychiatric evaluation.

“Our goal is to get him the treatment he needs,” said Miami Beach Police Officer Ernesto Rodriguez.

And, as Thompson opens the doors to the church, he said he is hoping to close this chapter and start the healing process.

The pastor said the community church celebrates diversity, welcoming all into the congregation, regardless of sexual orientation. “You want to be safe. You want to feel safe,” he said.

As they enter for the holiday season, church members are using their faith to find forgiveness. “He needs our prayers, he needs our thoughts,” said Thompson. “He doesn’t need our condemnation, but he does need help.”

Thompson said the church has hired security, and despite the threats, they will continue to welcome everyone, especially the mentally ill.

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