BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY (WISH) – An investigation is underway after several Bartholomew and Brown County churches suffered major damage. Authorities say vandals are to blame.
The most recent case happened at Triumphant Baptist Church in Columbus. A church caretaker arrived to find windows and lights smashed out.
It is the fifth church that has been vandalized in that area in just three weeks. Officials say they believe all of the cases are connected and the Bartholomew County Sheriff says he doesn’t think the vandals will stop until they’re caught.
Ohio Chapel United Methodist Church in Bartholomew County is one of the other churches that was vandalized. A caretaker there found broken windows, furniture that had been knocked over and even several areas that had been burned.
Officials say they believe they believe the person responsible attempted to burn the church down.
“Obviously we are concerned. An isolated incident is concerning, but when you have repeated type of incidents like this, it is concerning,” said Bartholomew County Sheriff, Matt Myers.
The sheriff says evidence found at several of the vandalized churches indicates the same person or group of people is responsible.
“Any time you have vandalism to a building or somebody’s property that is innocent, it is disturbing. It is especially disturbing when you’re targeting religious institutions,” said Sheriff Myers.
“We are a small congregation and we put so much blood, sweat and tears in trying to keep things looking nice and running well and serving the community in any way we can, and then for somebody to come in and do this… it does kind of get you all emotional,” said Christy Ayres, a spokesperson for the church.
The sheriff is asking anyone with information to speak up. He’s also increasing patrols near churches in the county and asking church leaders to come up with a plan to monitor their building after hours.