Sheriff's office investigating church vandalism - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Sheriff's office investigating church vandalism

(Source: Willow Grove Baptist Church) (Source: Willow Grove Baptist Church)

The McLennan County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the burglary and vandalism of Willow Grove Baptist Church in Speegleville.

Willow Grove Baptist Church has a long history in the Speegleville area.

"It was started by former slaves from Mississippi and they were looking for an area to settle down," Pastor Kenneth McNeil said.

Pastor Kenneth McNeil said he noticed a lock from the door on the ground next to the side door of the church on the morning of Wednesday, Aug. 9.

“It’s a day I’ll never forget,” McNeil said.

McNeil said he cautiously went into the church building to find stains on the carpet and the office ransacked. He called 911 once he saw that.

He walked over to the fellowship hall next door and noticed a broken window.

"As I come up on [the building], I see broken glass. So I come up to this window and notice it had been broken out," McNeil said. 

When he walked in the building, he said it smelled awful. As he turned the corner, he found the words "Satan," “Trump,” and a swastika written on the fellowship hall floor.

"It was at that point that I realized okay this is something different," McNeil said. 

The McLennan County Sheriff's Office arrived and started dusting for fingerprints and investigating the incident.

The predominantly African-American church has about 30 members including Marshall Green, who grew up going to the church with his family. He said he was shocked by the vandalism.

"This church has been here for 147 years. I was born and raised out here and nothing like this has ever happened in this community," Green said.

Over one hundred people gathered on Monday to help the church clean up the mess.

"What the enemy meant for evil, God has turned it in to good," McNeil said.

McNeil and Green said they would like to see the individuals who committed the crime to come forward.

"There's not hate, there's not animosity. There's love and forgiveness here," McNeil said.

"We'll talk with them. We won't be disrespectful to them," Green said.

McLennan County Sheriff Parnell McNamara said they are investigating the incident as destruction of property and burglary of building.

“We are taking this very seriously,” McNamara said. “We’re not going to let up. This type of activity will not be tolerated.”

The Sheriff’s office has contacted the FBI and the FBI said they will assist them in the investigation if that’s needed.

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