Catholic priest in Nebraska dies after attack in church

OMAHA, Neb.– A Catholic priest in a small Nebraska community died Sunday after being attacked in a parsonage, authorities said.

The Rev. Stephen Gutgsell was attacked “during an invasion” of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, the Archdiocese of Omaha said in a Sunday statement.

Gutgsell was taken to a hospital in Omaha, where he died from his injuries, church officials said. Fort Calhoun, with a population of about 1,000, is located about 20 miles north of Omaha.

Police received a 911 call just after 5 a.m. of an attempted burglary at the church. When officers arrived, they found Gutgsell injured and an alleged assailant inside. Authorities have taken the suspect into custody, Washington County Sheriff Mike Robinson said in a statement.

“This is an ongoing investigation and the suspect's name or manner of death will not be released,” Robinson said.

In 2007, Gutgsell pleaded guilty to theft by deception for embezzling $127,000 from an area church. He was sentenced to probation and ordered to pay restitution. Later he was transferred to another church. Church leaders said at the time that Gutgsell had learned his lesson, admitted his wrongdoing and asked for forgiveness.

Earlier this year, his brother, the Rev. Michael Gutgsell, also pleaded guilty to theft. From 1994 to 2003, he served as chancellor of the Archdiocese of Omaha.

Robinson told WOWT-TV that authorities did not believe Stephen Gutgsell's death was related to his criminal history. Robinson did not respond to questions on the subject from The Associated Press on Sunday.

Omaha Archdiocese spokesperson Riley Johnson declined to comment, confirming only that Stephen and Michael Gutgsell were brothers.