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Man accused of forcefully entering church, taking jug of cash
Jason Estep
Jason Estep

GAINESVILLE - A man is accused of forcing his way in to a Baptist church in Gainesville and leaving with a container of cash, according to authorities.

Jason Travis Estep, 37, of Toccoa, is accused of first-degree burglary, misdemeanor obstruction of an officer and vandalism of a place of worship.

Hall County authorities responded Wednesday to Temple Missionary Baptist Church on Lyman Drive when a citizen called 911 after allegedly seeing Estep attempting to forcefully enter the church, authorities said.

“A short time later, Hall County deputies spotted Estep with a crowbar and plastic jug filled with cash in his hands exiting the church on their arrival,” Hall County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chad Mann wrote in an email.

Pastor Levi Nix said he had just concluded the regular Wednesday night service when he received a call from dispatch after 9 p.m. to meet back at the church.

“By God’s grace, nothing was taken and all was recovered,” Nix said.

Nix said the church has changed its policies following the incident.

Mann said deputies “successfully pursued Estep on foot and placed him under arrest.”

Estep was booked Thursday in to the Hall County Jail, where he remains.

“My hope would personally be that he comes to terms with Christ in his life and accepts Christ as his savior,” Nix said.