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Rev. Al Henderson killed

Fort Dodge police make quick arrest

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Webster County Sheriff’s Lt. Luke Fleener reacts Wednesday evening as he helps investigate the death of the Rev. Al Henderson, at St. Paul Lutheran Church. Henderson was the chaplain for the Fort Dodge Police, Webster County Sheriff’s and the District 7 Iowa State Patrol. A suspect, Josh Pendelton, 36, was arrested Wednesday night.

The Rev. Al Henderson, a beloved Fort Dodge pastor who went the extra mile to support first responders in the area, was assaulted and killed Wednesday night at St. Paul Lutheran Church, a congregation he served since 1999, according to Fort Dodge Police Chief Roger Porter.

Police were called to the church, 400 S. 13th St., at about 5:45 p.m. for a report of an assault.

When officers arrived they found Henderson had been the victim of an assault, according to Porter.

According to police, the confrontation had apparently occurred just outside of the church.

Henderson was transported by ambulance to UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Parishoners and staff gather in prayer outside St. Paul Lutheran Church Wednesday night as police investigate the death of the Rev. Al Henderson, the church’s pastor.

“As a result of the assault, he died from his injuries,” Porter said.

Henderson was 64.

Porter described the attack as absolutely senseless.

“Pastor Al was a brother to all of us,” Porter said. “He was a pastor to every law enforcement and fire agency in this area. This is very tough for all of us.”

Dozens of friends and family members began to gather near the church Wednesday night.

-Messenger file photo
The Rev. Al Henderson displays the shirts that will be given out to supporters of SOS at a blood drive in October 2017 in response to the shooting in Las Vegas.

“Everyone here is pretty emotional right now,” Porter said. “We just want to extend prayers to his family.”

Police made a quick arrest, placing the man they believe to be responsible for the crime in custody within hours of the attack.

Joshua Pendleton, 36, of Fort Dodge, was arrested in connection to Henderson’s death, Porter reported.

“He’s in custody,” Porter said.

Pendleton was located in the 1400 block of Fourth Avenue South.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Fort Dodge Police investigate the death of the Rev. Al Henderson Wednesday evening at St. Paul Lutheran Church.

He is charged with first-degree murder, a class A felony; and first-degree robbery, a class B felony.

Pendleton has had previous criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, interference with official acts and assault charges, according to court records.

Henderson’s impact was felt throughout the Fort Dodge community.

He was profiled by The Messenger in September for his work with Serving Our Servants, a group formed to support and appreciate public servants. The group was formed about five years ago.

SOS helps with things like providing water and food at major incidents to raising money to buy the Fort Dodge police officers new dress caps that they can wear for formal occasions.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Fort Dodge Police investigator Larry Hedlund lets several people out of the building as officers made sure it was safe during a lockdown.

Henderson was the chaplain for the Fort Dodge Police Department, Webster County Sheriff’s Department, Iowa State Patrol and Fort Dodge Fire Department.

He became the pastor at St. Paul Lutheran Church during a time of adversity.

Five months prior to his hiring, an early morning fire destroyed the 113-year-old church the St. Paul congregation was housed in.

“I really see my primary role as supporting the congregation through the mourning and rebuilding process,” Henderson said at the time.

He added, “Leadership and guidance would be second because leadership is already here. They have moved on and are already preparing, seeking and dreaming.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Fort Dodge Police Lt. Dennis Quinn looks over an area on the playground of St. Paul Lutheran School Wednesday as they investigate the death of Rev. Al Henderson, pastor of the church.

Henderson would see the congregation through those difficult times and into its new church, which opened a few years later.

Henderson was also a pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Boone. His first parish was Concordia Lutheran Church of Williston, North Dakota.Henderson attended college at Concordia College in Seward, Nebraska. He received his master of divinity degree from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri, in 1989.

Before his work in the ministry, Henderson worked for cooperatives in western Nebraska as a feed department manager for almost nine years.

The Fort Dodge Police Department, Webster County sheriff’s deputies, Fort Dodge Fire Department, Webster County Medical Examiner, Iowa State Patrol and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, responded to the church Wednesday night.

A prayer service for the community is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. today in the auditorium at St. Edmond Catholic School, 501 N. 22nd St.

Josh Pendleton