Crime Watch 8

Brown Co. church member charged in staged hate crime

BROWN COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — A staged hate crime, that’s what investigators believe happened at a church in Brown County. Investigators say a church organist, fearful after the outcome of the 2016 election, vandalized the church he worked at to “mobilize a movement.”

26-year-old George Stang of Bloomington has been charged with institutional criminal mischief, a class A misdemeanor.

Investigators said Stang, who is gay, admitted to spray-painting phrases such as “HEIL TRUMP” and “FAG CHURCH,” on St. David’s Episcopal Church. The graffiti was found on the morning of Nov. 13.

Police say Stang called police when he “noticed” the graffiti that Sunday morning.

“It’s awful, what else can I say? Especially a church,” said Brown County resident, Harold Cox.

The vandalism happened right after the election. The church assumed a hate crime had been committed at the hands of Trump supporters, who were making a statement against their church, which is LGBT friendly.

“I hope it’s not true because that’s not good for Brown County,” said Cox.

Turns out, it wasn’t true. According to a probable cause affidavit, after a six-month long investigation, detectives used Stang’s cell phone to link him to the crime.

“Sounds like some TV show or something. NCIS, or whatever that is, Law and Order. It just is beyond the realm of believable,” said Brown County resident, Ron Smith.

The story gets even more unbelievable. According to court documents, Stang, admitted to committing the crime out of fear of the election results. Stang, identified as being homosexual in court documents, said his parents are not very supportive of him because he is gay. He said he wanted to “mobilize a movement” but didn’t want the media attention that had resulted.

“This incident has been a blight on our small and diverse community, and I am proud of the hard work put forth by the Brown County Sheriff’s Office, especially Detective Brian Shrader and Sheriff Scott Southerland,” said Brown County Prosecutor, Theodore Adams.

A handwritten statement from Stang to investigators stated, in part, “I suppose I wanted to give local people a reason to fight for good even if it was a false flag. I of course realize now that this was NOT the way to go about inspiring activism.”

But instead of fighting, locals are left dumbfounded.

“It’s bizarre. I don’t think they could write that script in Hollywood. It’s just weird,” said Smith.

Online jail records indicate that Stang has bonded out. 24-Hour News 8 reached out to St David’s. At this time, they did not want to comment.

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