A 52-year-old minister who believed he was chatting with a 14-year-old girl over the Internet shot and killed himself on Thursday after Chandler police arrived at his south Phoenix church to execute a search warrant in connection with a months-long investigation.
The Rev. Nicholas William Minerva of Tempe shot himself inside the Trinity Baptist Fellowship Church building at 3213 E. Southern Ave. moments after officers arrived at the church to execute a search warrant, according to Chandler police, the lead agency investigating Minerva.
Police say when they arrived at the church on Thursday afternoon, they initially made contact with Minerva who went back inside the church and would not come back out, according to Detective Frank Mendoza, a Chandler police spokesman.
Police said they began investigating Minerva’s communication for attempting to lure a minor over the Internet in July of last year and it lasted until Thursday.
During the course of the chats, police say Minerva had inappropriate conversations and in one instance exposed himself in front of a webcam over the Internet.
It wasn’t immediately known whether Chandler police were alerted to Minerva’s communication through a Chandler resident. Chandler police are continuing to investigate Minerva’s communication to see whether there could be any victims and are asking anyone with information to call police at (480) 782-4130.
According to the church’s website, Minerva and his family came to south Phoenix in 2004 to start the church. He is married and has four grown children.
Attempts to reach the church for comment on Friday were unsuccessful.
Police warn parents with children to be aware of the dangers of chatting with someone they don’t know over the Internet who could be impersonating a child and trying to lure children. To learn more about preventing Internet chatroom danger, visit: www.azicac.net or www.netsmartz.org/Parents.
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