Buckhead church, town vandalized

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By Jamison Hooks

staff writer

Three Buckhead juveniles, ranging from 11-years-old to 14–years–old have been arrested and charged with burglary and criminal damage to property after a night of vandalism and theft in Buckhead.

The children, authorities said, are  responsible for the vandalism and theft that occurred at the House of Refuge, on street signs in the town and at the Buckhead Skating Rink. 

On the morning of Tuesday July 12 a Buckhead resident called the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office to report spray paint damage she noticed on street signs.

Morgan County Sheriff’s Deputy Gresham then responded to a vandalism call at the House of Refuge.

Gresham’s report indicates that the door was forced open and extensive damage was done to church property.

Windows, chairs, sound equipment, choir robes, a television, a laptop and the walls were spray painted with gold, red, blue and silver paint.

The clean up and removal of spray painted messages such as “demons” and “don’t drink the juice” are estimated to cost approximately $10,000.

“Seeing what had happened was a lot of disappointment. We’re not a big church, and we do a lot of helping other so we couldn’t figure out who would do this to us,” said Pastor Garfield Chambers.

At 10:32 p.m. Investigator Pritchett and Sgt. Lanier initiated surveillance of the downtown Buckhead area.

It didn’t take long before the deputies noticed three juveniles walking down the railroad tracks by Benny Paul’s restaurant.

Pritchett and Lanier approached the juveniles, which is when two of them, a female and male began to run.

The 13-year old female and 14-year old male were caught after a brief chase. According to the incident report, the male was wearing all black and had a devil looking mask on.

The 10-year old male informed Deputies that they were on their way to the Madison House of Refuge to look at the damage done by the 13-year old female, the 14-year old male and another 11-year old female.

Parents of the juveniles were notified and called to the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office where the children were to be interviewed.

The children admitted to the vandalism and to stealing items such as a guitar and approximately 40 pounds of pennies from the church.

The minors also admitted to stealing food from the skating rink.

The parents of the juveniles returned the stolen items and assisted their children in completing full statements of the events that took place.

“This is just an example of the kind of damage unsupervised juveniles are capable of,” commented Captain Chris Bish of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office.

The Madison House of Refuge has received letters of apology from two of the children involved and one parent.

“We don’t want anything to come against these children. We want to lift them up and think positively about the church,” said Chambers.

The church is currently sanding down the floors and walls of the sanctuary and hope to have removed other spray paint damage to hallways and bathrooms by their next Sunday service.

“Last week we went ahead and met right there in the sanctuary of our church. We went on with our worship like nothing had happened,” said Chambers.

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