Man stabs, punches pastor, blaming him for marriage problems

TACOMA, Wash. — A former parishioner of the Slavic Christian Center is accused of stabbing and punching a pastor Tuesday night after an angry rant that the pastor was responsible for his marriage problems.

Police said the suspect was spotted riding a bike in the south end of Tacoma on Wednesday afternoon and was arrested.  He was booked into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of first-degree assault.

The pastor, Peter Sayenko, 63, was leading an Easter service at the church when a man came in at about 8:30 p.m., demanding to see him, said Vasiliy Rusev, the manager of the center.

"He sat in the couches we have in the lobby, pushed the table with his feet, and looked like he was angry," said Rusev.

Rusev said the ushers got Sayenko and the man started swearing loudly in Russian.

"(The pastor) said ‘OK, can we go to the office?’  They went to the office and he locked the doors.  The man locked the doors," said Rusev.

Sayenko reportedly knew the man and had performed his wedding ceremony a few years ago.

Tacoma police said the attacker then started ranting about his marriage and his wife, blaming the pastor for his marriage problems.

According to police, the man punched Sayenko in the face, and as the pastor reached for a phone to call 911, the man stabbed him in the back.

The attacker ran from the church.

"I think he's sick or something wrong with his head,” said Rusev.

According to the pastor’s son, a doctor said Sayenko was extremely lucky because the knife didn't hit any vital organs.  Instead, the blade got caught on his backbone.

Sayenko has been released from the hospital.

“I think its God (who) kept him alive,” said Rusev.