The deputy pulled his vehicle into the parking lot of St. Columba's Episcopal Church around 2:30 a.m., Monday, for a routine security check to find the silhouette of a person in front of a set of office trailers. Windows appeared to be damaged. A light was on.
According to the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office, as the deputy drove closer, the light in the trailer turned off. The deputy drove closer, and a subject ran from out of the trailer.
After a brief foot chase, 19-year-old Banks Chancellor of Suwanee was arrested and charged with burglary second degree forced, vandalism to a place of worship, criminal damage to property and obstruction of a law enforcement officer.
When St. Columba's members arrived, they discovered "extensive damage," according to an email from Father Tripp Norris, the church's rector, to parishioners.
Cleaning products, bleach and glue had been poured on garments used during worship services. A library and office equipment were damaged, "most beyond repair." Boy Scout Troop equipment on the property was also damaged.
The worst damage was to St. Columba's Catechesis atrium, a space used for the church's education program for children called Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, which uses handcrafted materials specially designed for kids.
"Unfortunately the damage to the items in the Catechesis classroom will mean we have to start building that atrium from scratch," Norris said.
St. Columba's staff is working to secure the trailers and assess the extent of the damage, Norris said. They hope to restore the Catechesis atrium by the fall when Sunday school classes resume.
"Let us remember in our prayers of thanksgiving our sheriff deputies who were amazing in their diligence and response," Norris said. "Let us too keep in our prayers the [person] who committed the acts of vandalism and destruction. To forgive and also hold accountable is what Jesus calls us all to do."
Chancellor is being held in Forsyth County Jail on a bond of $23,305.