SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) – The Senior Pastor of White Bluff United Methodist Church is working to restore his house of worship after a group of kids allegedly broke in and vandalized the building last Monday.
Savannah Police told WSAV News 3, they have identified three suspects between the ages of 10 and 11-years-old. According to the police report, the vandals ransacked classrooms and the pantry containing food for people in need. The suspects also emptied six fire extinguishers on the gymnasium floor and smashed the television remotes and consoles in each room. Pastor Josh Duckworth said the prank costs the church an estimated 25- 50K in damages.
“I certainly experienced several emotions, really frustrated that this happened again within a matter of probably 24 hours, but then deep sadness knowing there were folks out there who have nothing else to do but to cause damage to other people’s buildings and facilities,” said Pastor Duckworth.
Duckworth said he is thankful the vandals did not break into the sanctuary, and most of the damage can be repaired. He also added insurance will cover most of the cost. The District 6 Alderman, Kurtis Purtee, told News 3 this crime indicates a more serious problem.
“At this point, I’m speechless because we’re already going through enough, and then this is supposed to be a sacred place for people to come and worship and have that sense of peace. Folks aren’t even going to church at all right now, and to have that building, that place destroyed like that, it’s not only frustrating, not only does it hurt, it’s just a big black eye for Savannah,” said Purtee.
The alderman said he understands that families are staying at home and self-isolating, which can make children and adults both feel restless. However, he said neighbors should watch out for one another, even from a distance. He also repeated the phrase, “if you see something, say something.”
The Senior Pastor said situations like this remind him of how important the role of the church has in a community. He said his congregation has stepped up to help tremendously since the break-in. Duckworth hopes in the future, these kids will learn to follow the example of the church and choose love over anger.
White Bluff United Methodist Church is posting worship videos online.
Savannah police said the three suspects will be charged with burglary and criminal damage to property, once the juvenile court is back in session.