SOUTH FORSYTH — One Atlanta man’s visit to a south Forsyth church in his birthday suit ended in an arrest and about $50,000 in damages.
According to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, 43-year-old Stephen Earl Deason apparently ran out of Grace Fellowship Church — naked — about 3 a.m. July 22. He then jumped onto the hood of a fire truck and ripped off a piece of the windshield wiper.
Deason was later found in a retention pond surrounded by a chain link fence on the property, according to a sheriff’s report.
He was eventually placed in handcuffs after deputies wrestled with him in the pond for about 20 minutes.
During that time, they were able to wrestle away a wooden stick he had been holding in the air while saying, “This is the cross.”
Deason reportedly was “raving religious nonsense” while “splashing around in the muddy water,” according to the report.
Damages were initially estimated at about $25,000. That figure, however, nearly doubled when the church had to bring in an emergency, disaster cleaning service to clean up the blood Deason had tracked into the building after cutting himself while breaking in through a glass door.
While inside, he reportedly smashed several doors and windows, destroyed some computers and monitors and threw furniture through doors, according to Robin Regan, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office. He also reportedly ripped natural gas piping from outside of the building.
Once subdued, he attempted to break out of his restraints when placed on a backboard and gurney.
“Due to the circumstances on scene, he was taken to an area hospital instead of jail,” Regan said.
Deason was charged with second-degree force burglary, second-degree criminal damage to property, interference with government property and vandalism to a place of worship.
An investigation is ongoing into whether drugs and alcohol played a role in the incident.