COLUMBUS — A service at the church where Franklin County sheriff’s deputy Jason Meade is pastor was disrupted Sunday morning by five demonstrators who called Meade a murderer for fatally shooting 23-year-old Columbus resident Casey Goodson Jr. nine days ago.The scene at the Rosedale Baptist Church began calm as the demonstrators silently observed the first half hour of the service. But during a transition in the service a demonstrator stood up and addressed the congregation calling their pastor a killer.
The associate pastor, Paul Moore, who was filling in for Meade Sunday due to concerns of a demonstration, engaged with the demonstrators and told them they were welcome but not if they were going to be disruptive.
“We love you, let me tell you that first, but we can’t have you bad mouthing our pastor,” Moore said.
“We can’t have you bad mouthing our pastor.” Associate pastor Paul Moore of church where sheriff’s deputy Jason Meade is pastor (but was not present today) asks Casey Goodson Jr. protesters to leave. @SpectrumNews1OH pic.twitter.com/tIFaec0Cof— Pete Grieve (@pete_grieve) December 13, 2020
Then the situation escalated.
“Your pastor is a murderer,” a demonstrator responded.
A church member spoke up to defend Meade. “There’s two side to every story."
A demonstrator replied, “There’s not two sides to every story. What’s the other side to the story?”
Moore told Spectrum News he spoke to Meade Saturday in-person, but said they did not talk much about the incident because Meade said he was not authorized to discuss the case.
“I have the right to support my pastor because I know his character. Jason Meade has been only shown the bad things on the TV of whatever because they’re trying to make him a villain. He is an Iraq War veteran, a proud member of the U.S. Marines.”
The details of the shooting remain unclear as investigators have released little information so far. What is known is that Goodson was shot three times in front of his home, bringing sandwiches to his family after a dentist appointment, and the deputy was in the area on a warrant on which Goodson was not the suspect.
Meade's attorney says he acted in self-defense after Goodson allegedly pointed a gun at him. Goodson was carrying a gun with a concealed carry license. Goodson's mother spoke at protests downtown this weekend attended by hundreds where she called for Meade to lose his badge and face charges for the shooting.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther is calling for a full investigation of the incident and criticized the U.S. Marshal for initially calling the shooting justified, a statement the Marshal has walked back.
Based on his character, Moore said he does not believe Meade would have pulled the trigger unless there was a threat to his life. “We absolutely support him at this time,” Moore said. “We’re trying a man in the court of public opinion instead of letting the evidence speak for itself because nobody really knows the evidence.”
Moore said the church was going to try to regroup and try to continue with the rest of the service for the 40-50 members who were in attendance. The church is about 30 minutes from Columbus in a rural area of Madison County.
The church officials phoned authorities and two Madison County sheriff’s deputies arrived to the church. As the deputy arrived, the five demonstrators moved toward their vehicle, but the deputy pursed and stopped the group asking for identification.
The deputy said she was responding to a call the protesters were destroying property, which did not happen. Later, the deputy acknowledged there was confusion and church officials clarified they were not alleging any property destruction had occurred.
The demonstrators were given a criminal trespass warning and told they would be arrested if they returned to the church property.
“All we’re trying to do here is continue to have service, try to keep the church going until the investigation is complete, and they find whatever they find,” Moore said. “This is exactly why [Meade] did not attend today. Listen, we don’t want confrontation out here.”