BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD)– While many churches are finding an alternative way to celebrate Easter, Pastor Tony Spell of Life Tabernacle Church is continuing his in person services. In text messages, Pastor Spell claims more than one thousand people have attended several of his services in the past few weeks. Now, East Baton Rouge Officials are saying documentation may prove otherwise.

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said she doubts that thousands have gathered in Spell’s church. “I think the numbers have been exaggerated, but the truth of the matter is the congregants that attend church there should now know the severity of what we are dealing with,” Broome said. Broome called Spell’s actions irresponsible.

Central Police Chief Roger Corcoran was on scene documenting Spell’s Easter morning service. Corcoran counted around 330 in attendance, a far lower number than the 2,000 people Spell was expecting.

A protestor was seen holding a sign in front of the church Sunday morning. Central Resident Trey Bennett said he understands Pastor Spell’s rights but does not excuse his actions during a pandemic. “I think gathering in this large of a group it’s just incubating the coronavirus.. These people are coming from 5 different parishes people that live near me go to this church and I don’t want to get coronavirus. I know people have the right to assemble and normally the freedom of religion but right now it’s imperative we don’t,” Bennett said. Bennett expressed concern that Spell’s congregation could spread the virus anywhere they go after his service, if anyone was infected. “The only other thing I would say to him is that I hope he has a bad day in court,” Bennett said.

Spell’s services are being monitored by law enforcement, all documentation will be handed over to the District Attorney’s Office for a thorough investigation.