A Spokane priest having an apparent mental health crisis caused outcry from officials in the U.K. after he spoofed royal guardsmen last month by claiming to know the battalion’s chaplain and gained access to the guard barracks at Windsor Castle, a home of Queen Elizabeth II.
Law enforcement officials in London told the BBC they’re investigating the security breach.
The Rev. Dave Kruse, most recently a member of the clergy at St. Augustine Catholic Church, returned to Spokane a few days ago and is receiving treatment at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, said Fr. Darrin Connall, vicar general of the Diocese of Spokane.
“We’re concerned about his well-being,” Connall said.
In a Twitter message Thursday evening, Kruse declined to comment on the incident.
Kruse gained entry into the Victoria Barracks just outside the confines of Windsor Castle on April 27 by claiming to know the guard’s chaplain, according to a report by the BBC.
He ate with officers, stayed overnight, then had breakfast before concerns arose, according to the BBC. He was removed by police the following morning.
“Officers attended and removed the intruder from the barracks. No further action was required,” Thames Valley Police said in a statement to ABC News.
“He was not arrested for that and it was not a crime,” Connall said.
The breach of security is under investigation by the army, the BBC reported.
The barracks are close to Windsor Castle, where the queen has recently been living. At the time of the incident, she was at Sandringham House in the countryside for Easter. The barracks house Coldstream Guards, who serve in a ceremonial role as protectors of Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, and famously wear red jackets and black bearskin hats.
Kruse was ordained in 2015 and has been with the Diocese of Spokane since. He served in various roles at parishes, including at St. Mary of the Rosary in Chewelah, Washington, Our Lady of Lourdes Cathedral and Sacred Heart in Tekoa, Washington, according to his LinkedIn social media page. Prior to becoming a priest, Kruse served in the Army, according to his LinkedIn profile.
He taught at Chesterton Academy of Notre Dame, a new classical high school in Spokane, until March.
In early April, Kruse began making bizarre posts on his social media accounts.
Connall said Kruse was a beloved priest and “excellent preacher.” There weren’t any red flags in Kruse’s behavior that Connall was aware of until he abruptly left for London in early April, he said.
“This is all very sudden,” Connall said.
Once in the United Kingdom, Kruse’s posts became more frequent, including references to the royal family, frequently tagging them on his Twitter account.
On April 13, Kruse posted a letter to his Instagram that he sent to Spokane Bishop Thomas Daly, asking for his blessing to move his ministry, “The Fatherhood Foundation” to the Diocese of Westminster.
The foundation is an initiative founded by Kruse to “educate, inspire and strengthen fathers as they strive to live out their vocation to serve their families with the heart of Jesus Christ,” according to his LinkedIn.
On April 14, he tweeted a photo of mass at Westminster Cathedral. He didn’t post again until April 27, when he tweeted, “A Nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, it remembers. President John F. Kennedy.”
According to The Pillar, a Catholic newsletter, Kruse implied he was a chaplain to the British Royal Family and used the hashtag #queensconfessor on social media.
None of Kruse’s posts addressed the incident. He posted that he had returned to Spokane on Wednesday.
Connall said he hasn’t dealt with a priest experiencing a mental health crisis during his more than three decades in parish leadership. With that lack of experience, Connall said the diocese reached out to experts at Scotland Yard and Spokane Police, along with mental health care providers.
“We were able to have him come home, and he is presently in the hospital,” Connall said Thursday afternoon.
It’s unfortunate the situation is being reported in the media, Connall said.
He said he hopes Kruse can recover and return to his work in the parish. Kruse is on leave, he said.
“He’s just not well at this time,” Connall said. The diocese hopes to get Kruse the help he needs “so that he can get well again and offer his services as a priest.”
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