Officials in Missouri are treating a shooting at a Mennonite church as a hate crime, and four people, including two kids, have been arrested and charged with the crime.
According to a statement released by the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday, four juveniles were arrested for reportedly firing hundreds of bullets from a 9 mm pistol at the Clearview Church of Morgan County on Saturday.
When police arrived early Saturday morning, they found “obvious damage to the church” and expended 9mm shot casings. Authorities have concluded that at least 50 shots were fired into the chapel.
Fortuna’s Bryce Martin, age 18, and Versailles’s Zachary Stauffer, age 18, together with two children, ages 14 and 17, were detained after reportedly firing at least 50 rounds of ammunition into the church.
According to Morgan County Prosecutor Dustin Dunklee, Martin was charged with “Unlawful Use of a Weapon,” “Armed Criminal Activity,” and “First Degree Property Damage,” while Stauffer was charged with “1st Degree Property Damage and Armed Criminal Action.”
“Bryce Martin and Zachary Stauffer are being held in the Morgan County Jail with No Bond. The property damage is charged as a hate crime,” according to Sheriff Norman Dills’s official statement.
“This is an ongoing investigation and evidence are continuing to be seized. An incident at a second church in Morgan County is still under investigation.”
The two minors in custody were brought to the Camdenton Juvenile Justice Center. Three 9mm handguns, together with ammo and a car, were confiscated by the police. Investigators heard of the vandalism at a church in Moniteau County while looking into the apparent shooting.
The motive behind the shooting at Clearview Church is now unknown. There have been over 420 acts of hostility against churches in the United States during the previous five years, according to a report published by the Family Research Council in December of last year.
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The research further claims that between January and September of 2022, 57 violent incidents can be directly tied to the abortion debate. According to the report, FRC assistant director of the Center for Religious Liberty Arielle Del Turco posits that
“Criminal acts of vandalism and destruction of church property are likely symptomatic of a collapse in societal reverence and respect for houses of worship and religion — in this case, churches and Christianity,”
“Americans appear increasingly comfortable lashing out against church buildings, pointing to a larger societal problem of marginalizing core Christian beliefs, including those that touch on hot-button political issues related to human dignity and sexuality.”
A suspect was detained earlier this month after they allegedly attempted to pepper spray and throw smoke bombs at people attending an anti-racism charity event hosted by a New Jersey church.
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