Lafayette Police Department is Investigating Vandalism on Church Property

Members of The Gethsemane Church of Christ are Calling on Community for Support
Posted at 10:12 PM, Oct 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-25 09:40:03-04

Shattered glass, stolen food items and thousands of dollars in damage are the remains at The Gethsemane Church of God in Christ's community center.

The Lafayette Police Department is calling on the community to identify who is responsible for vandalizing the church's property for the third time in recent weeks.

Bishop Alton Gatlin and his wife Vanessa said these damages will cost thousands of dollars to repair.

“It’s the place where we give away food, we give away clothing, furniture, baby formula, diapers, all of the things that are so necessary at this time," Vanessa said.

According to the Gatlins, hundreds of people visit the community center weekly for free donations, especially with inflation on the rise.

“This is the worst of all of those times and it makes me feel really bad because we want to do ministry," Vanessa said. "People have driven up on the property today and when they find out we’re not giving out today, they are so distraught.”

Alton said he believes a group of juveniles are responsible for the damages, but he is not sure whether or not these crimes are a result of gang violence.

“We are pretty sure that we’ll be able to find the culprits that tried to destroy our building and therefore hurt our service to the community," Alton said.

Right now, there is damage to all three floors of the building, including the windows and the gym where many children and adolescents go to participate in sports.

“They took the fire retardant and sprayed it all over the gym floor which means we’ll have to strip down and re-furnish…a lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of work and frankly it just didn’t make sense,” Alton said.

Baby formula, flour and oil was used to destroy new clothes and the interior of the community center.

"This was the work of somebody who is really angry or somebody with nothing to do," Alton said. "I'm sorry, but it may be a reflection that we need to do more for our community and for our children."

The Gatlins are working on building a six-foot-tall fence with barbed wire, additional security cameras and tightening security measures to prevent the community center from being broken into again.

They are asking for anyone who may have more information on this incident to contact the Lafayette Police Department, immediately.