SWAT team arrests armed man who barricaded himself inside Melbourne church

Mark Patrick Soliman was arrested by SWAT team

MELBOURNE, Fla. – A man armed with a gun, who barricaded himself inside a Melbourne Church Sunday, was arrested by SWAT team members after a standoff lasting hours.

Contributed photo (Brevard County Sheriff's Office)

According to investigators, officers responded to the Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church around 7:45 a.m. after a disturbance between a man and church officials.

The man was identified as Mark Patrick Soliman. Soliman is a known individual at the church, officers said.

Melbourne PD said the disturbance turned violent after Soliman battered one of the priests.

Police said Soliman was trying to abduct the priest and dragged him out towards his car in the parking lot right before church started.

When officers arrived, Soliman brandished a firearm. Officers said they were able to distract Soliman long enough so church members could flee the area.

According to officers, Soliman barricaded himself just outside the front door of the church and threatened to commit suicide.

“He was definitely yelling profusely up and down the steps and he wanted to be heard and he had a situation so hopefully the guy can get his story heard maybe and hopefully get some help,” said Ryan Vanderwielen, who lives nearby.

Both SWAT and CNU members were on scene negotiating with the Soliman.

Around 12 p.m., Soliman was taken into custody by members of the SWAT team. According to Melbourne Mayor Paul Alfrey, Soliman was taken into custody after being shot with “less lethal” ammunition.

“The incident was resolved without injury to either Mr. Soliman or members of the agency,” officers said.

Soliman was charged with armed kidnapping, aggravated assault, use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, battery and resisting arrest.

“Amazing work by our department including patrol, dispatch, SWAT and Crisis Negotiations Unit,” Alfrey said. “This incident could have been a tragedy if not for the men and women of the Melbourne Police Department.”

About the Authors:

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.