According to Action 5 News in Memphis, TN, Parishioners at New Salem Missionary Baptist Church watched as a brawl broke out right in the middle of service and now the police have launched an investigation.
A fight between two women near the church’s choir section turned into a brawl between the two families, according to a police report. When officers arrived, only three people from the brawl were left and they’re all listed as both suspects and victims.
The police report tells two versions of what happened Sunday.
Police took photos of three church members’ injuries, but the photos haven’t been released.
At the center of the altercation are Beverly Milam, her nemesis Terry Bell, and Bell’s daughter Charra Lumpkin.
Bell and Milam agree on one thing: the fight began with a verbal confrontation at Bible study last Wednesday.
Milam said she told Bell to “stop sleeping with somebody” and then she said Bell got in her face.
Fast forward to first Sunday at New Salem.
Bell said she was walking from the choir stand during service around 1 p.m. when Milam approached her and said “Are you going to do something today?”
Bell said she replied she was “not going to get involved in something at the church.”
At that point, Bell’s daughter, Lumpkin, got between the two women.
But a Communion Day cat fight still followed.
The two women at the center of the fight have different versions of how the blows began.
Bell claims Milam struck her daughter.
Milam claims Bell’s friend “Angel” struck her in the face with an umbrella.
At that point, family members jumped in.
Milam said someone “grabbed her by the back of her hair” and “threw her to the ground.”
When officers arrived, they had to separate the women.
The police report says Bell suffered scratch marks to her neck and upper chest and her daughter had scratch marks to the neck, upper chest and left side.
Milam has a slightly swollen and bloodshot right eye.
Paramedics treated Milam at the church while Bell and Lumpkin refused medical attention
All parties involved said this has been an ongoing problem for several years and they all want to prosecute and Memphis police say charges could follow.
The church declined to comment on the matter and neither Milan and Lumpkin wanted to talk about what happened.
Bell has not returned Action News 5’s call.
And despite rumors, no one in church leadership threw any punches on first Sunday.