Now, the Diocese of Fresno has obtained a restraining order against the gun-wielding priest. Former Father Rios will not be allowed to step within 100 yards of St. Joseph’s Church even while the church works to remove his name from the marquee.
The priest is thought to be armed and potentially dangerous. The restraining order was obtained because the Fresno Diocese wanted to protect church employees, including Bishop Joseph Brennan. They fear the priest might return and use his store of weapons to wreak havoc upon the innocent people there.
Father Rios had posed with his array of weapons, including an AK-47, an AR-556, and a .357 Magnum. These images were posted online. His parishioners saw the content and were terrified that he might be bringing these dangerous firearms to the church on Sunday.
Besides his drug and alcohol abuse, gun-toting ways, and gang connections, Father Rios allegedly abused the church secretary, too. He supposedly established a romantic relationship with her and continued it in secret for five years. Throughout that time, he would emotionally and physically abuse her to keep her from sharing details about their nefarious love affair.
The secretary has admitted that the abuse she suffered from him was unbearable. Because he was often under the influence of drugs and alcohol, he would be even more horrible to her. But these substances did not even make him feel good. He was often suicidal, the church secretary said of the priest.
In February, the secretary claimed that he pointed one of his guns at her and himself while making threats about how he was going to end both of their lives.
She wrote in a church declaration, “Mr. Rios and I were in his Rectory when he put a gun to his head in front of me. As I started to cry in shock, I asked him what he was doing, and he said to me, ‘either I’m going to die, or you are, or we both are.’ Due to his past as a gang member and the gangster friends he hangs out with, I’m afraid for my safety and for my family.”
Because Father Rios was an unpredictable individual with a history of gang involvement and alcohol abuse, the secretary feared retaliation when her allegations were made public.
Court records reveal that Father Rios was put in the slammer for a DUI infraction in 2016. During that incident, his blood-alcohol level was measured to be 0.19, which is twice the legal driving limit in California.
When the restraining order was approved on Friday, church employees felt safer. Police also seized the priest’s assault rifle and Magnum from their church lockboxes.