"His reckless disregard for human life put hundreds of people in his congregation at risk and thousands of residents who may interact with them in danger", Chronister said.
The pastor, Dr. Rodney Howard-Browne, is charged with unlawful assembly and violation of a public health emergency order.
Our ABC Action News legal analyst said under the Hillsborough County "safer-at-home" order, the sheriff has the rights to take legal action.
In addition to defiantly holding church services, Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne has been using his social media platforms to challenge government authorities and has espoused various conspiracy theories on his Twitter account. The county has banned gatherings of more than 10 people.
In a public Facebook post on March 23, Howard-Browne's wife and church co-founder Adonica Howard-Browne said the country's founders "were intimately familiar with pandemics, viruses and plagues, yet they did not allow any to suspend our Constitutional liberties". It's also exempt from the county order, he said.
Editor's note: When liquor stores, tobacco stores, pot stores and restaurants are considered essential but churches are not, our priorities are out of whack. "If you can not be saved in church, you in serious trouble".
Distance learning poses challenges for students, teachers
"It's been nice for them being able to think outside of the box and work on their creativity", McRae said. Parents had some questions on the move to have schools conduct one day of home-based learning a week.
But the service caught the attention of Chronister, who issued a statement that admonished the church for failing to comply with the order. Instead, the church, held two jam-packed services on Sunday.
At the time of the news conference early Monday afternoon, Howard-Browne was not yet in custody, but Chronister said if he didn't surrender, his office would do what was necessary.
Chronister says Howard-Browne is in the process of turning himself in, but his deputies will go get him if they have to.
"Shame on this pastor, their legal staff and the leaders of this staff for forcing us to do our job".
"We brought in 13 machines that basically kill every virus in the place, and uh, if somebody walks through the door it's like, it kills everything on them", he said, according to TMZ. "We are hopeful that this will be a wakeup call". "Second of all, leaders from our faith-based community from across have embraced the importance of social distancing". "It is also important for the religious community to govern themselves to the laws of the land". "The Bible instructs us to obey the laws of the land".
At this point, it does not appear that Browne has turned himself in to cops. Yet, if the goal of your meeting is religious, the county prohibits it with no exception for the six-foot separation. "This order from Hillsborough County is not narrowly tailored to achieve its underlying objective".