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Church Crime Watch for the Week of Nov 20, 2023
I’m going to try something new. I’m going to put out a summary of crimes occurring at churches during the past week. I’m not sure I have the time to do it each week, but let’s see what happens with the feedback we get from this week’s Crime Watch.
Vandalism at Fayetteville Church
In Fayetteville, North Carolina, a serious act of vandalism occurred at the Greater Unity Tabernacle Christian Church and other downtown locations. The Fayetteville Police disclosed that four individuals have been charged in relation to these offenses. The investigation started on November 9 when the church, located across from the Cumberland County Detention Center, was defaced with obscene imagery and hateful language. Despite nearby security cameras, the incident was not captured. Further vandalism was discovered in the downtown area, affecting six other locations. Through surveillance video, authorities identified a suspect vehicle and four individuals. Dominic Smith, 18, was apprehended and faces multiple charges, including 13 counts of injury to real property. Three other suspects, Raybert Robinson, 21, Quantavis Moultrie, 21, and Gabriel Kroes, 19, are still at large. Smith is currently held on a $65,000 unsecured bond. The Fayetteville Police urge anyone with information to contact Detective B. Gerald and recommend using Fayetteville / Cumberland County Crime Stoppers for anonymous tips.
Shooting of Minister in Glendale, Arizona
In a tragic incident on November 15, 2023, Hans Schmidt, a 26-year-old military medic and father, was critically injured while preaching at the corner of 51st Avenue and Peoria in Glendale, Arizona. The shooting, which took place around 6:00 p.m., has left Schmidt hospitalized and fighting for his life. The Glendale Police Department is investigating the case, uncertain if Schmidt was a specific target or a victim of random violence. They are appealing for witnesses, given the busy nature of the location. The incident has heightened safety concerns among local businesses and the community. Another article noted that Hans was trying to get people to come into his church at that corner. I may be covering this on my YouTube channel here.
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York County Man Faces Charges for Ethnic Intimidation and Threats Against Church
In a concerning case of hostility towards a religious community in Newberry Township, 50-year-old Paul Robert O'Neill faces serious charges including ethnic intimidation, stalking, terroristic threats, and harassment. This comes after O'Neill's disturbing actions against the Slavic Baptist Church of Harrisburg. Notably, O'Neill left an alarming review of the church and was seen pretending to shoot children and staff during their Vacation Bible School. His actions have caused significant distress among the church members, exacerbated by his past behaviors that include breaking into the church and repeated verbal harassment. The situation underscores the growing concerns about intolerance and safety issues surrounding places of worship. O'Neill, arraigned in August, is currently held in York County Prison on $50,000 bail.
Boaz Man Detained for Church Burglary in Geraldine
Cody Ramsey, a 30-year-old from Boaz, is currently in custody following his alleged involvement in a church burglary in Geraldine. The incident, which took place last month, saw Bethel Baptist Church falling victim to a break-in. Geraldine Police Department officers were initially called to the scene on County Rd. 391, where they discovered that the church had been entered through a side window. The investigation was subsequently handed over to the Dekalb County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Division, leading to Ramsey's identification as the suspect. He was arrested and is now facing charges of third-degree burglary and fourth-degree theft of property. The collaborative efforts of the Geraldine and Albertville Police Departments were pivotal in advancing the investigation. The charges against Ramsey reflect the seriousness of the offenses, with the theft being categorized under Alabama Criminal Code as a Class A misdemeanor for property valued below $500, and third-degree burglary for theft of property valued between $500 and $1,499.
Court Appearance of Sparta Pastor Accused of Sexual Assault
Travis Becknell, a 46-year-old former pastor from Sparta, Wisconsin, made his initial court appearance via Zoom on charges of felony sexual exploitation by a therapist and misdemeanor fourth-degree sexual assault. The Monroe County court set his bond at $25,000 with conditions prohibiting contact with the victim and barring him from roles involving counseling or therapy. In the wake of these charges, Berean Way Church, where Becknell served, has closed and conducted a rummage sale to donate proceeds to a non-profit organization, reflecting the significant impact of the case on the community.
Historic Church Bell Returned to Soulard Church
A historic church bell, originally stolen from Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in St. Louis' Soulard neighborhood, was successfully returned. The heavy bell, dating back to 1849 and a crucial part of the church's history, was stolen on Halloween night. Its return was facilitated by the efforts of St. Louis police detectives, aided by extensive media coverage and social media attention that thwarted the thieves' attempts to sell it. The recovery of this iconic bell underscores the importance of community vigilance and the role of public awareness in preserving local historical artifacts.
What We Can Learn From This Crime Bulletin
First, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this bulletin. Your feedback on whether I should continue with it and how the format is working is invaluable. As we delve into the lessons from these diverse crimes – ranging from sexual assault and shootings to property crimes – one key takeaway stands out: the necessity of placing our trust in the Lord. In the face of such varied and often daunting criminal activities, it's essential to remember that our strength and resilience come from God. By grounding ourselves in faith and trust in God, we not only find solace but also the wisdom and guidance to navigate and address these challenges effectively.
It’s also important to take training seriously. Take training for free on our online training portal and training with your team (even if it is just two of you or even just you) at least 4 hours every month.