Priest Killed In California, Police Let Suspected Killer Of Eric Freed Go Hours Before Murder

A priest killed in California, named Eric Freed, has people upset not just because of the murder, but because police let the suspect go just hours before the killing.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, in the fall of last year several priests were robbed at gun point in a Church parking lot. The Obama administration also had some Catholic priests arrested for holding Mass during the government shutdown.

Worshipers found the priest killed on the rectory floor when he failed to show up for morning mass at St. Bernard’s Catholic Parish in Eureka, California. They also realized the car of Reverend Eric Freed was stolen.

Police Chief Andrew Mills confirmed they believed the priest murdered by a suspect named Gary Lee Bullock:

“It’s a violent crime and obviously, with this kind of response, we’re taking it very seriously.”

Freed’s cause of death has been attributed to blunt force trauma although the exact time of death is unknown until an autopsy can be performed. There were also signs of forced entry into the church.

Bullock was originally arrested by police officers for public intoxication after reports came in about a man acting strangely. While he was taken to jail, and even tried bashing open the police car windows from the inside, he was rejected due to his strange behavior. He was on probation for misdemeanor convictions for cocaine possession, although he did not have a history of violent crime. After being evaluated at a hospital he was eventually booked into the jail but then released after midnight based upon California laws related to involuntary psychiatric hold.

Before discovering the priest killed, a security guard spotted a man matching Bullock’s description heading in the direction of the church and told him to leave the property. The same guard apparently saw the same man later, this time holding a wooden stake. Police officers also saw him near the rectory but let him go.

The Sheriff’s Department is defending the decision to release Bullock:

“This was standard practice. It was truly a tragic, tragic event that this happened after the fact. Unfortunately, we release people from our jail because we have to, and they go commit other crimes. There was no indication of anything unusual here.”

But apparently Bullock knew he had the priest killed during his drunken rampage and decided to turn himself him. Police found him in his stepfather’s truck heading toward the police station. He surrendered without argument, is being held on a $1 million bail, and is expected to face murder charges.