Six apprehended in church burglaries

Published 11:01 am Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bainbridge police have arrested six young men in connection with a string of church burglaries reported earlier this week.

Six teenagers, ranging in age from 16-18, were arrested when officers conducting surveillance of local churches caught them entering the Bainbridge Church of God on Independent Street just after midnight on Wednesday morning, according to Bainbridge Public Safety investigators.

The youths are suspected of breaking into several other churches as well, taking money and two safes, BPS Investigator Mark Esquivel said.

Email newsletter signup

According to Esquivel, the churches which were broken into include: First Baptist Church, First Methodist Church and First Presbyterian Church, all on Shotwell Street; First Christian Church on S. Scott Street; Nelson Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church; the First African Baptist Church on Webster Street; the First Church of God on S. Russ Street; and Calvary Baptist Church on Chason Street.

The six youths arrested early Wednesday and charged with burglary are: Ronnie Leon Williams, 17, 2157 Butler Ferry Road, Bainbridge; Christopher Nundra, 18, 1212 Troup St., Bainbridge; Walter Roseborough, 17, 301 Green St., Bainbridge; Henry Alex Bush, 18, 711 College St., Bainbridge; Quintin Quishone Gadson, 17, 101 Rand Floyd Road, Bainbridge; and a sixteen-year-old resident of E. Green Street in Bainbridge.

Stakeout led to arrests

The youths’ arrests came during a thorough surveillance operation conducted by BPS investigators, the BPS VIPER community police team and investigators from the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office, BPS Chief Investigator Frank Green said.

The first church break-in was reported Sunday at First Baptist Church. Several others were reported Sunday night and Monday morning. BPS patrol officers checked on several other churches Tuesday to determine if they had been victims and also kept a lookout for suspicious activity, Officer Collin Hastey said.

Investigator Esquivel said he quickly noticed the churches which were broken into were all located in the same geographic area. Esquivel contacted Investigator Chris Jordan for assistance in conducting a stakeout and  Chief Investigator Green coordinated the addition of the VIPER team and Sheriff’s investigators to the group who were assigned to secretly keep watch on three churches identified as potential targets because of their location.

Just after midnight, a VIPER officer saw several young males enter the Bainbridge Church of God on Independent Street and called for backup. Investigators surrounded the church and soon took the six suspects into custody.

On Wednesday morning, BPS investigators used information they gleaned from the suspects’ questioning to recover a safe which had been left in a wooded area within the Earle May Boat Basin, Green said. Investigators determined the safe belonged to the First African Baptist Church, whose leaders had not yet realized it had been taken. Another safe was stolen from Calvary Baptist Church, Esquivel said.

In the other break-ins, the burglars apparently were only after small amounts of cash they found in church offices or items they could quickly grab, Esquivel said. Perhaps the most extensive haul came at the First Presbyterian Church, where burglars took cash and checks collected from the offertory plates, as well as a television and a video game system, according to Esquivel.

Under Georgia law, burglary is a felony offense and those persons convicted of the crime can be sentenced to prison time between one and 20 years.