TYLER (KYTX) - A street preacher who has stirred up controversy on college campuses nationwide for his confrontational preaching, claims a Tyler Junior College student assaulted him. Now Tyler Police are investigating.
Jesse Morrell is with a traveling ministry called Open Air Outreach, and preaches on the TJC campus a few times every semester.
Thursday he was preaching at a courtyard next to campus with three other street preachers, when he says a confrontation between him and a student became physical.
CBS 19 was there when Morrell was preaching to students: "Stop being a whore! There are many many college girls that are whores."
In an exclusive interview with CBS 19, Morrell says, "We were saying things like premarital sex, homosexuality, masturbation, prostitution, drinking, pot smoking, those types of things are sin and God will send them to hell if they don't repent of their sins."
The problem for students, was the way they were preaching.
"They said sodomite, sodomite, you're going to go to hell along with the Jews," said student Richard Salazar.
Another student, Alexis Hooper, says, "He started calling me an evil Jew, told me that I would burn in hell, that all Jews were evil and that was why Hitler burned them. He said it was God's will."
Eventually, during the day, Morrell noticed his camera was missing. Morrell suspected one of the students took the camera, so he confronted him. Police cannot release that student's name because this is an open investigation.
"At that point he dropped his backpack, he said 'you want to go' and he shoved me," Morrell says.
Witnesses say after a scuffle, the student walked away, but witnesses say Morrell chased after him.
"I followed him again asking, 'Did you take my camera? Where's my camera?' and at that point he went to the passenger's side of his truck, pulled out a gun and pointed it at me, saying 'You want something from me, I got something for you.'"
Witnesses like student Zach Pichett told police they saw the gun pulled and say it was done in self defense.
"The guy's up here putting stuff in his truck and Jesse gets in his face and everything," Pichett said.
Pichett says the student eventually lowered the gun, and Morrell immediately filed a police report.
There are very different accounts of what happened Thursday. Student witnesses told CBS 19 that Morrell did shove them, but he says he didn't touch anyone.
No one has been charged yet. Tyler Police are in the middle of an open investigation and say they will take everything into consideration and make a decision once all their information is compiled.
Morrell says the other three men with him are local preachers who connected with him online.
The Tyler Fire Chief confirms one of the men is a Tyler firefighter, but did not know he was a street preacher. Witnesses say he was simply holding a sign in silence, and was not part of the altercation.