SOMERVILLE, Ala. — Investigators with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office have identified four children as suspects in the vandalism of St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church in Somerville.
The four include an 11-year-old female, a 13-year-old female, and two 14-year-old males. The children are facing burglary and criminal mischief charges.
The church sustained thousands of dollars in damages with bibles, pews, tables, couches, even pianos destroyed along with glass, paint, and condiments splattered everywhere.
“Totally annihilated,” said Amos Burton. “Looked like maybe a tornado went through and just kept going. It looks that devastating.” Burton is one of the deacons at St. John’s MB Church.
He says it’s difficult to understand the rage that anybody could have on one of God’s houses.
“See, it’s God’s house, not ours,” said Burton. “We just kept it up for Him so it’s hard for me to understand how any individual would have that kind of hate and animosity or whatever to do something like this.”
Authorities were called to the church on Saturday when the damage was discovered. They now believe the destruction happened the Thursday and Friday prior.
Four juvenile suspects were identified Monday, though MCSO believes there could be more responsible.
Lynette Burton, a lifelong member of the church, showed News 19 around the destruction. She said she was shocked when she saw the church. “I was just at awe. I just could not believe this was my church.”
“It’s a feeling that you can’t really describe,” said Amos Burton. “Right now, I can’t really describe it because I’m still in shock.”
Sheriff Ron Puckett is working with the church leadership to assist in getting the church ready to be used again. Mike Swafford with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office says several people have reached out, offering to donate pianos to replace the destroyed ones.
Burton says they have received an outpouring of love from the community and they are grateful for the support. For those wishing to help, you can donate online at the GoFundMe created by church members, or in person at Nettie Bell’s Restaurant located at 141 Broad St in Somerville.